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Tsotsi: Guptas orchestrated my exit from Eskom

Jan 25 2020 07:15
Lameez Omarjee

Former Eskom board chairperson Zola Tsotsi told the state capture commission that Tony Gupta had threatened to have him removed from the power utility's board.

Tsotsi continued his testimony before the state capture commission on Friday. He provided evidence on a R43m sponsorship deal Eskom struck with Gupta-owned New Age newspapers in April 2014.

Former CEO and board member Collin Matjila had approved the deal, an investigation into allegations of irregularities in the awarding of the contract was launched later that year following complaints from a whistleblower.

In his testimony before the commission on Thursday, Tsotsi said that Tony Gupta had asked him to have the probe "go away", Fin24 previously reported.

Tsotsi told the commission that he explained to Gupta that as a board chairperson he does not have the operational authority to intervene in decisions made by management. Gupta appeared "visibly upset" by Tsotsi's response.

On Friday Tsotsi recalled another meeting with the Gupta brother which followed, in February 2015 at the State of the Nation Address.

Tsotsi said he had met with then-public enterprises minister Lynne Brown who had reprimanded him for interfering with Eskom management. "What is pertinent is, on the same day, I got a call from Tony Gupta, that he wanted to speak to me," Tsotsi said.

He said he met Gupta after the "fallout" with Brown. According to Tsotsi, Gupta was very forthright and did not even offer him a seat, they were both standing for the meeting.

"Tony Gupta was very clear. He said, 'Chairman, you are not assisting us,'" Tsotsi said. He understood "us" to mean the Gupta family's businesses. He recalled that this might have been the fourth time he was asked to assist the Guptas.

"He said, 'Every time we want something from you, from Eskom - you are not coming forth with something,'" Tsotsi recalled. "On this occasion he said to me, 'We are the ones who put you in the position you are in, and we are the ones who can take you out of this position,'" Tsotsi said.

When Tsotsi told Gupta to allow him to do the job he was asked of Cabinet, he was shown the door.

"I took this to be a clear threat and something is imminent … I left Eskom about a month after."

Tsotsi similarly told Parliament's inquiry into Eskom in 2017 that Gupta had threatened him. "In my submission to Parliament, I make the point that my exit from Eskom was orchestrated ... When I connect the dots, I still believe it was orchestrated," he said. 

Tsotsi concluded his testimony on the New Age on Friday. Hhe will return to the commission to testify on further matters related to Eskom.

eskom  |  lynne brown  |  zola tsotsi  |  gupta family
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