Spotlight still on Eskom after board chairman wraps up testimony

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JOHANNESBURG, February 26 – Corruption at state electricity company Eskom will again be in focus at the ongoing inquiry into state capture on Tuesday when a second official from the entity begins his testimony a day after board chairperson Jabu Mabuza concluded his own.

The Zondo commission will now hear from Eskom acting senior general manager for the primary energy division Daniel Mashigo, who has been with the utility for 18 years and is expected to talk about contracts awarded at two coal mines in Brakfontein and Koornfontein owned by the controversial Gupta family.

In December, Mashigo said Eskom had concluded 35 new contracts for the supply of 94 million tons of coal since the beginning of the year after 10 of 15 power stations had depleted their coal stocks to below the 20-day minimum prescribed in South Africa’s grid code.

Concluding his testimony on Monday, chairman Mabuza told the Zondo inquiry that important decisions about the utility had been made by people outside its appointed structures during Matshela Koko’s tenure as interim chief executive in 2015.

He reiterated that emails retrieved from Koko’s server showed that confidential Eskom documents were in 2015 sent to an address linked to Salim Essa, believed to be an associate of the Guptas who have denied using their friendship with former president Jacob Zuma to wield undue influence on the government and state firms.

Mabuza alleged that Koko leaked confidential documents to show the Gupta family that he was on its side and to benefit its businesses through Eskom contracts.

The Eskom chairman also implicated former head of legal and compliance Suzanne Daniels in the leaking of documents to associates of the Guptas about the coal supply agreement with Optimum Coal.

Mabuza said Eskom had laid four charges against Koko, among others, for lying to Parliament and sending confidential corporate information to Essa.

He said the company brought three charges against Daniels for sending emails to Essa, her role in controversial contracts involving consultancy McKinsey and Optimum Coal and for using about R800,000 of Eskom’s money in legal fees for former board chairperson Ben Ngubane’s hearings at public broadcaster SABC.

Mabuza denied any conflict of interest from his shareholding in a company that does maintenance for a third of Eskom’s boilers and his joint venture with his in-laws in coal mining companies that do business with Eskom.

– African News Agency (ANA)