LONDON — Former Eskom chairman Zola Tsotsi dropped a proverbial State Capture bomb in South Africa’s Parliament this morning. His statement to the investigating committee unpacks how he was bullied by the Guptas and State Enterprises minister Lynne Brown, and implicates president Jacob Zuma in an identical manner to that what was previously explained by whistle-blowing ANC politicians Vytjie Mentor and Mcebisi Jonas. The former Eskom chairman Tsotsi says Zuma was in the room when the chair of his foundation and former chair of SAA Dudu Myeni instructed Tsotsi to toe the plunderers’ line or be dismissed. Forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan has been closely following events and unpacks the relevance of Tsotsi’s statement, which was made under oath. He reckons this is the “smoking gun” which will bury the Guptas and their puppets, and, he avers, very possibly end the Zuma presidency. The audio of the interview with O’Sullivan is followed by Zola Tsotsi’s full statement as it was delivered to Parliament this morning. Dynamite. – Alec Hogg
Joining us on the line from Johannesburg is Paul O’Sullivan. There have been dramatic things going down in Parliament this morning. Paul, you’ve been following the story closely given the work that Forensics for Justice does. Just give us an insight into Zola Tsotsi, the former chairman of Eskom and the evidence that he led today. Was any of this expected?
No, absolutely not, Alec, and in my opinion, it’s a bombshell that’s been dropped because the statement that he read out in Parliament today is the first evidence, what I call the ‘smoking gun’ of the involvement in the President in State Capture. What Zola Tsotsi had to say left a lot of people with mouths wide open. It’s just shocking and it’s unbelievable. I think it could signal the fall of President Zuma.
Just explain, when you say, ‘the smoking gun,’ how so?
Well, what he explained today was not known until today. It was probably known by a small group of people, but effectively what happened was he was appointed as the Chairman of Eskom back in, I think, 2014. Now, when he was appointed he was working with the then minister, which was Gigaba and he had a cordial working relationship with Gigaba. As we know, soon after Gigaba handed over to Lynne Brown in May 2014. So, he then had to cultivate a relationship with Lynne Brown, which he was trying to do and he thought he was getting there. Until all of a sudden in February 2015, he got a phone call and he had to go and see Lynne Brown. This was now probably 2 or 3 days before that fateful State of the Nation Address where the Secret Service used signal jamming technology to stop people recording what was going on, while they threw the EFF members out of parliament. As you know, both the signal jamming and the throwing out of parliament of the EFF by plain clothed police officers was declared unlawful.
So, you had the situation where he gets a call from Lynne Brown and he goes to see her, and she makes it pretty clear to him that he doesn’t appear to be doing his job properly and if he doesn’t she’s going to find somebody else. She accused him of interfering with the mechanics of Eskom so, he then told her if scrutinising the executive decisions at Eskom and calling them to account for the decisions amounted to interference with management, and he was happy to continue doing so. She then told him that if he doesn’t change his ways she’ll find somebody else to do the job. So, he left that meeting and at the very same afternoon he met with Tony Gupta and the meeting was initiated by Tony Gupta.
Tony Gupta told him in no uncertain terms that he, as chairman of Eskom, was not helping them, the Guptas, with anything. He then went on to say, ‘we are the ones who put you in the position you are in – we are the ones who can take you out.’ That meeting was then short and sweet, and he left there. Then he was supposed to have a board meeting on the 26th February 2015, with the whole board of Eskom. The night before the board meeting he got a call from Zuma and Zuma told him that he was trying to get hold of the Director General and the Minister and he could not, and he wanted to cancel the board meeting so, there you have the first ‘smoking gun’ if you like. The interference in the running of a state entity by the president and lo and behold an hour later he got a call from the acting-Director General to say that the Minister has asked that the meeting be postponed, i.e. the board meeting. So, put out by this she asked what the reasons were for the postponement and he was told that the Minister had not given any. He then communicated the postponement of the board meeting to other members. So, then a week or 10 days later, on the 7th March, he got a call from Dudu Myeni, the chairman of SA Airways, and she told him that he had to report to the presidential residence in Durban, which he did.
Sorry Paul, just to understand this and put it into context. Now, Dudu Myeni is the chairman of SA Airways. She’s got nothing to do with Eskom. The chairman of Eskom was charged with running the state utility and he’s having board meetings shuffled around and changed so, he can’t really run that. Now he’s been told by Dudu Myeni to report to a meeting. That must have been unusual to him.
Absolutely unusual to him but remember by this stage he was already put out by the fact that the meeting he had with Lynne Brown and the coincidence was not lost on him but a couple of hours after she had threatened to replace him, he got a call from Tony Gupta, and Tony Gupta did exactly the same. He threatened to replace him so, there is absolute evidence of interference in the running of Eskom. But when he gets this call from Myeni she doesn’t disclose to him on the phone why the president wants to see him. She said, she wasn’t prepared to discuss it on the phone. So, off he goes to Durban and he arrives at the presidential residence and he’s met by Dudu Myeni. Her son, Thalente now, Thalente Myeni is the son of Dudu Myeni but his father is well known to be Jacob Zuma himself, but with them was another gentleman a guy called Nick Linnell.
Now, I’ve done a lot of research into Nick Linnell. He’s a ‘Mr Fix-It’ for Dudu Myeni. In fact, he’s been attached to her side since 2010. In 2011, when she was called out for arrant decisions at the Water Board in Richards Bay. Nick Linnell was the one that took the media on at the press ombudsman and attempted to get them a wrap over the knuckles for the story they wrote about Dudu Myeni, and it backfired but what he did was he left an audit trail that he was acting for Dudu Myeni, and we’ll come back to Nick Linnell in a minute. So, he was introduced to him as a lawyer and then, according to his statement he says, ‘Myeni then proceeded to outline the purpose of the meeting.’ Namely, that the situation of Eskom’s financial stress and poor technical performance warrants an enquiry into the company to be instituted.
She further elaborated that in the course of the said enquiry, three executives, namely the acting CEO, Tshediso Matona, the group executive for group capital, Dan Marokane, and group executive for commercial, Matshela Koko were to be suspended. He was shocked by this. He didn’t know what to say but while he’s having the discussion Myeni is explaining to him that there’ll be no prejudice by the executives. She doesn’t explain why she’s getting involved in the running of Eskom and shortly after this the president himself entered the room.
So, Zuma comes in as well?
Yes, Jacob Zuma himself, walked into the room so, there you’ve got Jacob Zuma, Myeni, this guy Nick Linnell, who purports to be an attorney but we know he’s not. He was an attorney in the then Rhodesia. He’s now 66 years’ old and he has no business being involved in all these state-owned entities. So, you’ve Myeni, Nick Linnell, and Myeni and Zuma’s son, Thalente, sitting there and the president asks, ‘what are they are going to discuss?’ Myeni then repeats the whole process and explains that these three executives have to be suspended. Now, for the first time in all the investigations that have been going on we now have the mention of Zuma himself in State Capture, which has been absent so, this is a watershed moment in the investigations into State Capture. But it goes a step further. After explaining, with the president present, and Myeni seemed to be running the meeting, she then stated that Nick Linnell had assisted her with a similar situation at SA Airways and she was making him available to assist Zola with the suspension of the Eskom executives.
A lot of this stuff, Paul, sounds like what happened when you first of all had Vytjie Mentor with her engagement with the Guptas and having Zuma in the room next door. Then subsequent to that what Mcebisi Jonas said happened with him and his engagement with the Guptas. It seems like in this case though, it wasn’t a Gupta doing the messaging it was Dudu Myeni.
Yes, Dudu Myeni herself. Now, we’ve long known that Dudu Myeni is joined at the hip with Zuma. She was his mistress at one stage and we also know that Thalente is the son of both of them, and she’s attempted desperately to conceal that but she’s failed miserably. What she’s now going to have to do, and I’m hoping that parliament will issue her with a summons as part of the Eskom enquiry, and bring her to parliament and get her to explain why she was interfering in the affairs of Eskom and why she was doing so with the blessing of Jacob Zuma. Now, I think we’ve mentioned before that Dudu Myeni is also the founder and chairman of the Jacob Zuma Foundation. It’s worth noting that I have alleged that the Jacob Zuma Foundation has been used for money laundering by virtue of the fact that payments have been made to the Jacob Zuma Foundation and those payments have not been accounted for. Now, curiously for the last 3½ or 4 years the Jacob Zuma Foundation has not filed audited accounts.
So, you’re just left wondering what the role of Dudu Myeni is in all this nonsense and I’m hoping that we’ll get her into court sooner rather than later, and get her to explain this. Forensics for Justice – on our website you can see the docket that we’ve opened against Dudu Myeni and it’s quite a substantial docket with oodles of prima facie evidence. We’re now going to be adding a supplemental statement to that docket asking for her to be charged with additional counts of corruption in respect of her relationship with Zuma, and how they bullied this chairman of Eskom. When the chairman of Eskom did not go along with their plan a few weeks later he was fired.
The interesting part about all of this, as you say, is that there is a ‘smoking gun’ now, but by the same token, how do we know that Zola Tsotsi, the chairman, is actually telling the truth? That’s got to be the crux to all of this.
Well, he gave his evidence under oath, Alec, and he prepared a statement, which I’ve sent to you and I think you should publish it on your website. Although the statement itself is not signed, he gave his evidence under oath. I think that, at the end of the day, the best way to unpack this is to subpoena this woman to parliament and let her explain to parliament what her relationship is with Zuma and more importantly, this guy, Nick Linnell. Now, Nick Linnell is the ‘Mr Fix-It’ for Dudu Myeni. Every time she gets into trouble Nick Lennell has been running around trying to put out fires and that includes at the Water Board in Richards Bay, at SA Airways, and as we now know, here he’s been assisting her in bullying the chairman of Eskom and he pulled it off. He makes it clear that Nick Linnell actually drew up the suspension letters, which he then served on those three individuals.
You say he’s not a lawyer. What exactly is he, apart from being a Mr Fix-It?
He was a lawyer in Zimbabwe, at that stage it was Rhodesia, and he in fact was a magistrate in Rhodesia.
So, he has legal training of some sort?
Oh yes, he absolutely has legal training but he’s not registered with the Law Society. I’ve checked and he’s not registered so, he shouldn’t be going to meetings and referring to himself as a lawyer. Now, the other point of concern is this. She engaged his services whilst she was running the Water Board and she paid for his services from that Water Board. She then engaged his services and paid him R167 000 a month without any employment contract and without any procurement processes being followed whatsoever at SA Airways. What did he do? He worked together with Dudu Myeni instructing a law firm, ENSafrica, in bringing false charges against the then CEO of SA Airways, Monwabisi Kalawe. In fact, the law firm didn’t only do that. They went after all the executives that she wanted to remove from SA Airways so that she could have her dirty hands on the tender processes of SA Airways. As you know, OUTA brought an application to stop her from paying R256m to BnP Capital last year and it just goes on and on.
I think we now have, what I consider to be a ‘smoking gun’ and we’re going to be adding another supplementary statement. I’ve already written two weeks ago, to the National Director of Public Prosecutions and I’ve requested a certificate that they don’t intend to prosecute Myeni because they’re just sitting on the docket that I opened now, in January 2016, and they have to make a decision. If they don’t make a decision by the new year, we are going to launch an application in the High Court to force the National Prosecuting Authority to make a decision and issue the certificate because we believe we have enough to prosecute Dudu Myeni privately, and we will do so.
Paul, just to dwell a little on the National Prosecuting Authority. There have been reports in the last day or so that they’re starting to stir into action. That a ‘crack’ team has been put together to investigate State Capture, etc. What’s your reading on that?
Well, I am aware that the Hawks are busy with it and it makes sense that there would have to be prosecutors guiding the Hawks because on a complex investigation like that, you can’t have a situation where the police do the investigation without guidance from the National Prosecuting Authority. So, on these larger investigations, complex frauds and corruption, etc, they tend to be prosecutorial led investigations. So, the initial parts of the investigations would be carried out by the police, in this case the Hawks. They would then take their findings to the National Prosecuting Authority because at the end of the day they’re the people that are tasked with drawing up the charge sheet and prosecuting the cases. They would then sit with the investigating team and say, ‘okay, you know what else we need – we need this.’ We need a statement from this person explaining, etc, and so on and so forth. When they’ve got all that together they then make a decision as to whether or not they should prosecute. I think I’ve made it clear that I see the low-hanging fruit. Until today, the real low-hanging fruit was Brian Molefe. I now see there’s two apples hanging on the low part of the tree. The one is Brian Molefe and the other is Dudu Myeni, and I’m hoping that they’ll both be picked very soon.
Just to follow up after Zola Tsotsi, you had the Minister Lynne Brown, who he implicated in quite a deep way, coming onto the stand and herself saying, ‘she would like to see investigations, etc,’ this was in parliament. If she’s been so deeply implicated in it why is she saying this?
Well, I think you know there’s no ‘smoking gun’ against her as yet. She seems to be on the periphery of everything, but she would have to explain why she called Zola Tsotsi for a meeting a few days before the State of the Nation Address in CT in 2015, and demand from him to stop interfering in the executive running of Eskom and if he did not do so she would replace him. It just doesn’t sound like pure coincidence that 2 or 3 hours later he gets an unsolicited call and a meeting with Tony Gupta, and he pretty much said the same thing. So, somewhere it needs to be unpacked and if it can’t be unpacked in parliament then it can be unpacked in a criminal trial and these people can be put on the stand and forced to explain what’s going on.
It’s extraordinary developments to the North of us, in Zimbabwe and in SA as well. There has to be some wash-over of this effect but the SA Parliament, certainly in this case, appears to be hellbent on bringing the truth to the surface. Do you think that’s an accurate assessment or do you think that, as we’ve heard it all before we heard a similar story, as I mentioned with Vytjie Mentor and with Mcebisi Jonas, that this whole thing might just disappear?
I think it’s a bit further down the line now than that that it can just disappear. So, there has to be some sacrificial lambs at least and I would like to see the full gamut of these people being dragged before court and prosecuted. Certainly, we have enough, in my opinion, to indict a number of people, including Brian Molefe, including the suspended CFO of Eskom.
Yes, including Dudu Myeni – they all have to explain their role.
What about Jacob Zuma though? If one were to see the elective conference vote in his ex-wife, as some people say will occur, could this whole thing then be swept under the carpet?
It’s possible because at the end of the day we all know that it’s not supposed to happen but we all know it does happen, and I’m talking about executive interference in the criminal justice system. So, you do have people giving instructions to prosecutor, senior prosecutors and senior police officials and that needs to stop. I suppose you could say, maybe the National Director of Public Prosecutions has realised that the writing’s on the wall if he doesn’t start doing something soon. I imagine it will be too late if he waits until after the elective conference and maybe someone like Cyril Ramaphosa gets in because he’ll be toast.
So, how do you see things developing from here, Paul?
Well, I’ve said it before, Alec. If the elective conference results in an ethical and good person becoming the new president of the ANC, then I think they have 18 months before the next elections and I think the ANC will win the next elections. If, on the other hand, a Zuma-ite or a Gupta-ite gets appointed as president of the ANC then we’ll have another 18 months of looting and then the ANC will lose the 2019 elections.
And those 18 months of looting can they not be stopped in any way?
I think that will happen, Alec. Civil society has become more and more alert to these things and steps are being taken, even right now so, we’re going to see more and more civil cases putting stops to this looting. I think what’s happened is people are talking a lot more now, despite the conduct aimed at attacking whistleblowers. Look at what’s happened to me. I’ve been arrested I don’t know how many times and dragged off planes and have my offices searched illegally, all of it illegal, but I think those days are coming to an end soon and if they don’t come to an end soon then the courts will force it to come to an end.
Just to close off with. This parliamentary enquiry, from the outside and given the history of how the State Capture process has been able to roll, how was it even possible for it to occur?
Well, let’s not worry about how it was possible. It happened and it would appear to me that the people running the enquiry are decent people. We can’t tar everybody. We can’t tar every single ANC MP as a criminal. That would be impossible. Some of them are good people and their hearts are in the right places. They just allowed themselves to be persuaded, for want of a better expression, as to how they should vote in certain issues, which should have been free votes but they weren’t. I think that at the end of the day, even the ANC MPs themselves are starting to realise that this thing is getting out of hand. I do not see a situation where Jacob Zuma, regardless of who gets in, in December. I do not see a situation where Jacob Zuma will still be the president of this country by Easter next year.
You do however, or you did say that you expected to see arrests before December. Are you still sticking with that?
I’m saying, I’d like to see those arrests before December. I think, looking at the progress that’s taken place on the investigations, it may not now happen but I’m not ditching it. I’m focusing on seeing at least one arrest before December. When I say, ‘before December,’ I think I’ve said before Christmas so, let’s work on the end of the year.
Yes, and the final point. It’s interesting to see that the SABC is now livestreaming this from parliament. That’s quite a different SABC to the one that used to be around not long ago, under Hlaudi’s reign.
Yes, it’s nice because the SABC have got no money for programs and it doesn’t cost any money to live stream from parliament so really, I guess, it’s free entertainment. But at the end of the day, I think the SABC is now pretty much uncaptured and we’re going to see other institutions becoming uncaptured. I think it’s fair to say that Eskom are in the process of becoming uncaptured. The same will happen at Transnet and Prasa, and SA Airways we know is already uncaptured. So, yes, I think the future does look good. I’m always very positive about the future. I believe that justice will prevail, and that good always triumphs over evil.
Paul O’Sullivan, talking to us from Johannesburg.
Statement by former Eskom chairman Zola Tsotsi to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on State Enterprises
I feel privileged to have been afforded the opportunity to appear before this committee so that I may make my contribution towards the unravelling of the issues that have contributed to current state of affairs at Eskom.
The lapses in good corporate governance that have been occasioned by poor decision making have opened up the company to exploitation by unscrupulous rent seekers.
Those of us who have been and continue to be at the forefront of these events, including any who may have even peripheral knowledge thereof, have both the responsibility and moral obligation to voluntarily provide this knowledge to this Committee and the nation.
In accordance with the information I received that Eskom will make available any documentation I may require in support of my preparation for my appearance before this Committee,
I regret to say that, despite numerous requests, Eskom did not avail me a single document. I have therefore had to rely on my memory of the pertinent events during my tenure at Eskom. This is unfortunate as it limits my ability to support the work of this committee. Be that as it may, I am here committed to presenting my recollections to the best of my ability.
1. The TNA Contract
1.1 On my arrival at Eskom in 2011, there was an existing TNA (The New Age – a newspaper which was part of Gupta Media) contract which was in progress. It was due to expire in about June 2014. At the time of its expiry, Collin Matjila was Acting Chief Executive.
1.2 Mr Matjila acceded to the request that the contract be renewed. In so doing, he failed to apply a provision in the delegation of authority that enjoined him to deal with sponsorship through a Committee that was put in place to deal with such matters thus by-passing the process and acting outside of his delegation of authority. The finance Director among others in his management team raised objections to his actions, contending that he used the wrong delegation of authority, and that the correct one would require him to make the decision on sponsorship as part of a Committee.
1.3 Mr Matjila disputed this position and proceeded to sign the contract. A whistle blower reported this action to the chairperson of the Audit and Risk Committee, stating that the acting CE had flouted procurement regulations. The ARC chairperson then brought the matter to the attention of the Board which duly delegated the ARC to institute an audit inquiry into the matter.
1.4 The ARC appointed Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo who produced a report with a finding that Mr Matjila had interpreted his delegation of Authority incorrectly by using a wrong process to award the TNA contract, thereby infringing the provisions of the PFMA in that his authorised expenditure would then be irregular.
1 .5 Mr Matjila then requested the Board to seek a legal opinion in this matter, to which the Board agreed.
1.6 The legal opinion was provided by the firm of Ledwaba Mazwai Attorneys who upheld the SNG findings that Mr Matjila had acted outside of his delegated authority and recommended that the Board discipline the Acting CE
At this point, Mr Matjila was no longer with the company as the substantive CE Mr Matona was then in office, so the Board could not institute disciplinary action after the fact. Further, the lawyers advised that cancellation of the contract would result in expensive litigation and serious losses to the company.
They also afforded the Board advice that meant accepting the contract, i.e, ratifying it meant accepting responsibility for Mr Matjila‘s breach. After deliberations the Board accepted this advice as an irregular expenditure finding was too ghastly to contemplate. The board then resolved to let the contract run the remaining few months of the extension.
2. IT Procurement
2.1 I had established a practice of having regular weekly briefing meetings with the Chief Executive. At the time of the procurement of the IT services, Mr Matjila was Acting CE. It was in one of these meetings that I was, for the first time, informed that there was an IT services procurement process in progress to replace T- Systems contract.
2.2 I next learnt from the report of the Board Tender Committee (BTC) to the Board that the process had hit an impasse in that the negotiations with the preferred bidders were unsuccessful. Consequently the recommendation to the BTC was to extend the T-systems contract for a further 2 years.
2.3 To the best of my recollection, circumstances of the suspension of Mr Sal Laher were never raised at the Board, neither before nor after the suspension.
3. The Duvha Boiler
3.1 The procurement process of the Duvha Boiler was started after my time at Eskom. I therefore have no knowledge of this matter.
Just gets worse and worse! Zola Tsotsi says Salim Essa gave him list people to appoint to Eskom Board positions. He gave different list to Minister Brown for approval but list that came back to him from Minister was same as Essa’s. #EskomInquiry
— Anton Eberhard (@AntonEberhard) November 22, 2017
4. Suspension of four executives
4.1 In order to do justice to the matter of the circumstances surrounding the suspension of Messrs Matona, Koko, Morokane and Molefe, please indulge me to sketch some of the events that occurred prior to this, which events take us to the time of the appointment of the new Board in early December 2014.
4.2 During the first 6 or so weeks the new Board members were busy with inductions and only started to get to grips with Eskom’s business towards the end of January 2015.
4.3 In the period from the arrival of Minister Brown at Public Enterprises Department in May 2014 till the new Board was in place, I had been trying to cultivate a working relationship with the Minister and aspired to achieve one similar to how I related with the previous Minister Gigaba.
Tsotsi’s evidence crucially places President Zuma as directly involved in meddling with SOE’s and places witnesses “at the scene” #EskomInquiry
— Annika Larsen (@AnnikaLarsen1) November 22, 2017
4.4 It became patently clear to me that I was not succeeding in this regard when the Minister called me to a meeting a day or two before the State of the Nation Address (SONA) in February 2015. At this meeting, she stated as follows:
“Chairman, I have received complaints from management and Board members that you are interfering in management. Please refrain from doing so, because if you don‘t, I shall have to find someone else to do your job!” My response was “Minister, most Board members hardly know what I look like, let alone not having worked with me yet. As for management, if scrutinising their decisions and behaviour and calling them to account constitutes interference with management, then I will happily continue doing so. If you had acceded to my request that we have regular briefing sessions, even this meeting would not have been necessary” where upon the Minister responded by saying, “Chairman, you go and do what you have to do, I will go and do what I have to, there is no reason for you and I to talk about anything.” That is how the meeting ended.
4.5 The very same afternoon, I was approached by Tony Gupta (Tony) who requested that we meet. At the meeting, Tony told me “Chairman, you are not helping us with anything. We are the ones who put you in the position you are in. We are the ones who can take you out!” My response was “Do what you have to do, and let me carry on with the job that the Cabinet appointed me to do!” So ended that meeting.
4.6 It is at this time that I felt that some sinister clouds are gathering because the coincidence of the two events was not lost on me. Our first Board meeting was scheduled for 26 February 2015. On the evening of the eve of the meeting day, I received a phone call from the President of the Republic of South Africa (the President) who informed me that he had tried to get hold of the Minister and Deputy Minister to no avail. The President said he was able to locate the Acting Director General and asked if she has spoken to me, which at that point she had not. The President then informed me that the Board meeting will not be taking place and that the Acting DG will call me to ask me to postpone it.
Shortly thereafter I received a call from the Acting DG to say that the Minister has asked that the meeting be postponed. When I asked for the reasons for the postponement, I was told that the Minister had not given any. I then had the postponement communicated to the Board members.
4. 7 The totality of these events had generated some apprehension in me about things to come. Hardly a week later, I was called by Dudu Myeni. She said that I should avail myself for an audience with the President, and declined to discuss any details over the phone.
4.8 On or about 7 March 2015, I arrived at the Durban Presidential residence and was met by Dudu Myeni, her son Talent, and a certain Mr Nick Lennell, who was introduced to me as a lawyer. Ms Myeni then proceeded to outline the purpose of the meeting, namely, that the situation of Eskom‘s financial stress and poor technical performance warrants that an inquiry into the company be instituted. She further elaborated that, in the course of the said enquiry, three executives namely, Acting CE Tshediso Matona, Group Executive for Group Capital Dan Marokane, and Group Executive for Commercial Matshela Koko, are to be suspended.
So many questions arising from #EskomInquiry. Why was #DuduMyeni meddling? What agency did Tony Gupta have? What exactly is Minister Lynne Brown's relationship with Tony Gupta? If Tsotsi's testimony is true, heads must roll.
— Mandy Wiener (@MandyWiener) November 22, 2017
4.9 I found this matter altogether shocking and proceeded to question the need for suspending these executives as I saw this as a recipe for inducing instability in the company. She retorted that even the War Room was experiencing frustration with the decline in performance of the Company, and that the enquiry was essential. In her view, the suspension of the executives will not create difficulties because it will be explained that they are not accused of wrongdoing, but are being asked to allow space for the enquiry to proceed unencumbered by their presence. Shortly hereafter the President entered. After some pleasantries, he requested to know what was up for discussion, whereupon Ms Myeni repeated what she had previously stated. The President then enquired if I knew who the executives are who were to be suspended, to which I responded that I would prefer that I consult the HR Rules of the company to check if there is provision for recusal rather than suspensions to achieve the same objective. Ms Myeni stated that Mr Lennell had assisted her with a similar situation at SAA and is being made available to assist. Mr Lennell then proposed that he draft a resolution for me to present to the Board setting out the rationale for the enquiry. The meeting ended.
4.11 I convened a Board meeting on 09 March 2015 where I presented the proposed resolution. The Board expressed its discomfort with this approach and instead proposed that the Minister be invited to engage on this matter with the Board.
4.12 The Board meeting with the Minister in attendance was convened on 11 March 2015.The Minister gave her support for the inquiry as well as for the suspensions of the 3 executives. The Board then resolved to proceed with both the inquiry and suspensions of the 3 executives. It also mandated the Audit and Risk Committee (ARC) to prepare the Terms of Reference for the inquiry, as well as the People and Governance Committee (P&G) to effect the suspensions.
4.13 At the inception of the P&G Committee meeting following the Board meeting, two astonishing events occurred. Firstly, Dr. Ben Ngubane stated that the name of the Financial Director must be added to the list of executives to be suspended. I immediately raised furious objections. For one, this executive‘s name was not among the names approved by the Board. More importantly, suspending the FD is going to generate shock waves even internationally especially with our investors and lenders because the FD is seen as the custodian of their investments. Dr. Ngubane responded that the Minister had instructed that the FD‘s name be added. I immediately called the Minister to raise my concerns and objection, but she rebuffed me.
— SikonathiMantshantsh (@SikonathiM) November 22, 2017
4.14 The second astonishing event had to do with the appointment of the executives who had to act for those suspended. Hardly an hour after the end of the Board meeting which decided on the suspensions, Ms Chwayita Mabude was announcing the names in the P&G of the executives who were going to act. I immediately protested that nobody in the Committee, Ms Mabude included, other than myself, would have known which executives were suitable replacements. Once again Dr, Ngubane stated that these names came from the Minister.
4.15 Mr. Lennell assisted P&G in drafting the suspension letters, which were then individually handed out. I was at pains to assure all the executives that had there been any provision for their recusal other than suspension, we would have preferred to apply it, and also that their suspension does not mean they have been found guilty of any wrongdoing.
4.16 The following morning, 12 March 2015 at 10h00, I addressed a press conference wherein I announced the suspension of the 4 executives and the Company’s intention to institute an inquiry.
4.17 The afternoon of the same day I was to have the most unpleasant and humiliating experience in all my tenure as Chairman. The head of Eskom Treasury informed me that our investors and lenders from across the world will be calling in to ask for an explanation of the actions of suspending the executives. Indeed I was on line with around 52 individuals trying to defend what essentially was an indefensible position.
This should make the headlines: At parliament’s #EskomInquiry ex Chairman Tsotsi outlines how President Zuma, Dudu Myeni, Minister Lynne Brown & Board members Ben Ngubane & Chwayita Mabude conspired to force his resignation & that of 4 executives (paving the way for more looting)
— Anton Eberhard (@AntonEberhard) November 22, 2017
4.18 Hardly a week went by and l was faced with having to defend myself against accusations from several board members that I was not consulting the Board in the preparatory work on the inquiry. The Board engaged a law firm to trump up charges against me that I am not fit to be a director of the Company. On 23 March, in the dead of night, I was given an ultimatum by the Board to resign or be charged with lack of fitness to be a director. l resigned under duress.
4.19 The termination of the services of the executives who left Eskom occurred after I had left.
In conclusion, I would like to state here that corruption is the scourge that is denying our people the opportunity of a decent and prosperous livelihood. It is the duty of all of us to rid our society of this evil. I therefore applaud the initiative taken by this Honourable House to get to the bottom of maladministration at State Owned Enterprises. I wish the committee well in this endeavour.