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Eskom's Koko slams graft accusations, says his track record speaks for itself

Mar 12 2019 08:03
Khulekani Magubane, Fin24

Former acting CEO at Eskom, Matshela Koko, has maintained that corruption and mismanagement at the power utility had nothing to do with him, as testimony implicating him in wrongdoing mounts at the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture. 

On Monday Gert Opperman, a coal supply unit manager at the power utility, told the commission that in 2015, he twice received phone calls from Koko instructing him to accept that sub-standard coal be forwarded to Majuba power station.  

The Sunday Times, meanwhile, reported over the weekend that Koko is accused of promising Swiss-based engineering giant, Asea Brown Boveri (ABB), R6.5bn in future contracts if it subcontracted work on Kusile power station to Impulse International, a company partially owned by his stepdaughter, Koketso Choma.

Koko denied the claims. According to the article, Eskom upped the value of contracts with ABB once Impulse International had been subcontracted.  

Koko told Fin24 on Monday evening that the claims of corruption related to ABB were a simple matter of the company having an international dispute with its peers and deflecting blame for its challenges on him.

He denied ever promising the company R6.5bn, saying there was no evidence.

"The first layer here is an alleged conflict of interest related to a company owned by my daughter and using this to force ABB to give my daughter a contract. I was charged for that and was vindicated."

The former Eskom CEO said he never gave Opperman an instruction to accept poor quality coal from any company. 

"I think that people are under pressure to implicate others to justify state capture," he said.

He said that, if the claims coming out of the commission against him were true, this would mean that there was pressure to buy "services from friends" which would have increased the cost of coal from Eskom. 

"Instead, plant performance was better during these so-called years of state capture. But people have bought into the theory so they have to find their culprit," Koko said.

Koko did accept that cost overruns which took place at Eskom were unacceptable and that the Special Investigating Unit, which has announced it is probing this, is bound to open a can of worms there.

He added that he preferred the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture above the parliamentary inquiry into state capture, saying that the judicial commission was focused on fact finding and the parliamentary one was accusatory in nature.

The parliamentary inquiry took place in 2017 and 2018. 

"I made a separation between the state capture inquiry in Parliament and the Zondo commission. The parliamentary one was a farce and a tool to fight ANC battles," he said.

"I have a lot of respect for the Zondo commission. The difference between the two is that Parliament inquiry connected the dots with no cross examination, while the Zondo commission connects the evidence."

The state capture inquiry continues on Tuesday. 

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