Gupta family welcomes probe into Eskom coal deal worth R400m

Ockert de Villiers

Johannesburg – The Gupta family has said it would welcome any investigation into the reported awarding of a coal supply contract worth an estimated R400m a year by former Eskom board chair Zola Tsotsi. Eskom

The Sunday Times reported that Tsotsi allegedly bent the rules of the power operator, including influencing a decision to award the contract.

Speaking on behalf of the Gupta family, Nazeem Howa, chairperson of Oakbay’s group executive, denied there were any irregularities in the rewarding of the contract.

“First, a basic check would have confirmed that the proper regulatory requirements had been obtained from the relevant government departments,” Howa told News24.

“In fact, our mine had been in care and maintenance until such time as we met the regulatory requirements.”

According to the report, Tsotsi, who resigned from Eskom at the end of March, leaned on Eskom executives to approve a coal contract signed in March with the Gupta family’s Brakfontein mine in Mpumalanga, even though the mine does not have a full water license.

The mine began supplying coal to Eskom last week.

Howa said the newspaper reported incorrectly that the mining firm supplied Eskom from two mines.

“We are currently supplying Eskom from our Brakfontein mine, while Vierfontein, contrary to the Sunday Times article, remains in care and maintenance while we wait for a water licence which was applied for in August 2013,” said Howa.

“The mine will not be operational until such time as the full regulatory framework is in place.”

He added: “We are happy to provide documentary proof that all regulatory requirements have been met.”

The Democratic Alliance’s shadow minister of public enterprises Natasha Mazzone said she would file a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application into all of Eskom’s coal supply service contracts.

Howa said he would welcome a PAIA application, because it would show the Sunday newspaper’s article was inaccurate.

“It appears that political interference may have been involved, with some resistance from Eskom management and senior executives, in the awarding of coal supply tenders to the Gupta family and their associates,” Mazzone said in a statement on Sunday.

She said she would put parliamentary questions forward regarding the awarding of the contract and whether Eskom followed an open and transparent bidding process for its coal supply.

News24