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Eskom lies an assault on SA's governance systems - Lynne Brown

Oct 04 2017 14:12
Liesl Peyper

Cape Town – Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has told Parliament that Eskom’s lies about payments to Gupta-linked consultancy firm Trillian amount to an “assault” on South Africa’s democratic system of governance.

Brown was on Wednesday briefing the portfolio committee on public enterprises about her department’s annual report, when she referred to the fact that Eskom had lied to DA MP Natasha Mazzone when she asked if the power utility made payments to Trillian back in December 2016.

“The opposition was entitled to ask the question, and to receive a truthful response," said Brown. "Had a truthful response been forthcoming, and the facts of the relationship been exposed last December, appropriate action would have been taken to investigate by now,” she said.

The Minister maintained that Eskom was “on the path (to) a stable balance sheet”, and that its biggest challenge was good governance and internal controls. 

Probe and new board 

Brown said a probe by the Special Investigations Unit into allegations of corruption and state capture at Eskom, which is currently underway, was a critical step to restore public and investor confidence in the power company.

Brown added that she intends to call an Eskom special general meeting in November to appoint a permanent board. “The advertising process for new board members closed on 8 September 2017, and candidates are currently undergoing a vetting process,” she said. 

Part of the new board's first mandate would be appointment of a permanent group CEO. 

“In the meantime, I have asked Mr Khoza to ensure that all internal disciplinary procedures relating to allegations of wrongful conduct at the utility are concluded prior to the special general meeting,” she said. 

Its not Cluedo 

Brown said government efforts to address allegations of corruption at the state utility would not “appease those baying for the immediate shedding of heads in the public square on the basis of leaked email correspondence”.

"Email correspondence" was a reference to the leaked Gupta emails.

“But it is not as simple as the board game Cluedo" she said. "The last time I looked people were still entitled to be regarded as innocent until proven otherwise,” she said.

The Minister said she was “comfortable” with the clean audit opinion her Department received.

Mazzone asked Brown how she could be “comfortable” with the audit outcomes, given the state of affairs at state-owned entities.

Former Finance Minister and ANC member of Parliament Pravin Gordhan, who sits on the committee, told Brown to exert better control over the state-owned entities reporting to her as legislation gives her the powers to do so.

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