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Eskom boss Brian Molefe has become the laughing stock of South Africa after suggesting he might have been at a shebeen – an informal watering hole – in leafy Saxonwold instead of the home of the controversial Gupta family. People have been hunting for the mystery shebeen, a feature usually associated with lower-income areas, not suburbs where the super-rich reside in mansions. Molefe later moved to suggest that he had been misunderstood about his comment indicating he could be a Saxonwold shebeen regular. One thing is now clear to the nation: Molefe has significant difficulty separating fact from fiction. If it wasn’t so serious, it would be funny. However, Molefe has been pushing for South Africa to go ahead with a nuclear build programme that could cripple the country while benefitting a politically connected elite. The utility boss is also at the centre of allegations that Eskom helped the Guptas pay for a coal mine through fraudulent means. President Jacob Zuma is believed to favour Molefe for the role of finance minister after Pravin Gordhan. However, the more Molefe opens his mouth, the more it seems apparent that South Africa’s very own Pinocchio needs to be added to the list of influential people who should be removed from their positions of authority – and soon – in the interests of cleaning up corruption and growing the economy. – Jackie Cameron
By Matthew le Cordeur
Cape Town – Eskom CEO Brian Molefe must tell the truth under oath before Parliament regarding allegations contained in former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s “State of Capture” report.
That is according to Democratic Alliance MP Natasha Mazzone, who heads up the party’s public enterprises portfolio.
“Mr Molefe has conveniently attempted to explain away the damning revelations of the public protector’s state capture report during press briefings, thereby placing no obligation on him to tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” she said in a statement on Sunday.
As such, the DA has requested Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises to summons Molefe, “so that he can tell the truth to South Africa about his relationship with the Guptas, under oath,” said Mazzone.
Molefe “has already blatantly misled South Africa when he said he wasn’t provided with an opportunity to respond to the state capture report,” she said. “The public protector’s office has confirmed that he did receive and respond to questions in writing.
“Should he repeat this lie under oath, Mr Molefe would be in violation of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act, 2004 – a criminal offence.”
The Saxonworld shebeen
Molefe caused a stir when he linked the report’s cellphone tower records that placed him in Saxonworld 19 times from August 5 2015 to November 17 2015 to a non-existent shebeen.
The morning after the report was released, Molefe told media that he had agonised “the whole of last night on what we could have done differently, and I believe nothing”.
“My cellphone reflects that I was in Saxonwold 14 times, close to the head of proverbial goats. My cellphone reflects I was in the area,” said Molefe.
“There’s a shebeen there, two streets away from the Gupta(s). I will not admit or deny that I’ve gone to the shebeen. But there is a shebeen there,” a tearful Molefe added.
Molefe’s tears did not impress Madonsela. “He was a master of diversion today,” she told The Times. “By demonising the other he made himself look good by default. That was calculated. Even that dramatic exit when he looked emotional… It was a lovely movie moment. He put on a great show.”
The following day, Molefe retracted the statement, after it became clear there was no such shebeen.
“I said yesterday that when I arrived at work I told someone that the public protector claims I was in Saxonwold 14 times. My colleague said he goes to Saxonwold every Friday,” said Molefe.
“I did not say I went there. My colleague said there is a place in Saxonwold that he goes to on Fridays and Saturdays. I did not say I went there to drink.”
The report’s evidence reveals that Molefe engaged with the Guptas – who live in Saxonwold – on a frequent basis.
— Wayne Gemmell (@waynegemmell) November 7, 2016
This evidence questions Molefe’s lack of disclosure regarding the family, as Eskom was doing business with Gupta-owned Tegeta amid its bid to buy Optimum Coal Mine from Glencore.
“On 11 April 2016, Tegeta informed the BRP’s (Business Rescue Practitioners) and Glencore, who in turn informed the loan consortium that they were R600m short,” the report explained.
“On the very same day, Eskom held an urgent Board Tender Committee meeting at 21:00 in the evening to approve the prepayment which was R659 558 079 … inclusive of VAT.”
“Between 23 March 2016 and 30 April 2016, (Tegeta director Ronica) Ragavan made 11 calls to Mr Molefe and sent 4 text messages to him. Of the calls made, seven were made between 9 April 2016 and 12 April 2016. This includes one call made on 11 April 2016.”
I hear all bus routes to #SaxonwoldShebeen have been cancelled. Only the Gravy Train remains in operation.
— Johann Botha (@jonahboat) November 7, 2016
Ragavan is a long-time Gupta associate who was recently appointed acting CEO of Oakbay Investments, the family’s main holding company.
Eskom approved the prepayment at the late night meeting. The report states that the Eskom board did not appear to have exercised a duty of care. This, it says, may “constitute a violation” of section 50 of the Public Finance Management Act.
Eskom backs Molefe and Tegeta deal
Eskom chairperson Ben Ngubane defended Molefe in a statement on Friday, saying “Eskom firmly rejects the suggestion that Tegeta is favoured or that due process was not followed.
“Regarding the continued innuendo that Eskom has been giving special favours to Tegeta Exploration and Resources, the Eskom board stands firm by the processes undertaken by the company to conclude extensions of its coal supply agreements with its suppliers.
“We are satisfied that due process had been followed and we can be proud of the savings achieved by the executive team to date. In the six months to September 30 2016, Eskom’s primary energy costs were reduced by 1.5% compared to an average increase of 18% over the past five years.”
Mantashe: Tegeta deal with Eskom corrupt
While Eskom tried to defend its actions, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe on Friday questioned the Tegeta deal.
The Sunday Independent quoted him as saying it does not take a rocket scientist to see that its transaction deal with the Gupta-owned Tegeta Exploration and Resources was “corrupt”.
“If you have read the public protector’s report you would see that the trip by Minister (of Mineral Resources) Mosebenzi Zwane to Switzerland to negotiate that the Optimum Colliery be given to Tegeta was corrupt and it is the ANC that should say so,” Mantashe told ANC members at Ncumisa Khondlo Community Hall in Peddie, near Grahamstown, on Friday, the Sunday paper reported.
Mantashe said he supported Madonsela’s recommendations of a judicial commission of inquiry. “Such a commission will go into the bottom of the problems we are faced with,” said Mantashe. – Fin24
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