Zondo Commission: The key players in how Guptas captured Eskom (by firing Tshediso Matona)

As the Zondo Commission continues, testimonies from former Eskom executives have lifted the lid on what exactly transpired in 2015 when four senior executives, including the CEO and CFO were suspiciously suspended. At the time, the Gupta brothers Ajay, Atul and Tony were the owners of Tegeta, a company which won a bid to supply coal to Eskom for R3,7bn. To secure the tender, the Gupta family first had to rid Eskom of officials who would question and possibly alert law enforcement agencies to the corruption underway. Tshediso Matona was Eskom CEO and was suspended, a move which was allegedly orchestrated by the Guptas, former president Jacob Zuma and former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni. All the key players who captured Eskom and handed it to the Guptas on a silver platter have been identified by Matona at his state capture commission testimony – Bernice Maune. 

Eskom. More of Zapiro’s magic is available at www.zapiro.com.

Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona: Having served as Eskom CEO for five months, Matona was abruptly removed in a surprise meeting with then Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown. Now head of the National Planning Secretariat, Matona detailed how he was told by Brown that he would not need to attend a meeting where his suspension was discussed. Shortly after the resolution to suspend him was taken, he was served a letter by former Eskom chairperson Zola Tsotsi, who has since testified that he was acting from special instruction of President Jacob Zuma, former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni and consultant Nicholas Linell.

“That day I had left my house as if it were a normal day and I came home suspended,” Matona told the commission.

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown: During a meeting at which a resolution was adopted to suspend Matona, Brown allegedly told Matona to leave the meeting together with the chief financial officer. Matona testified that he left his place at the meeting and his fate was delivered to him in a letter by then Eskom chairperson Zola Tsotsi.

“And so I continued to sit at my place in the meeting until I was expressly informed by the minister, who said ‘you as well as the CFO, both of you should excuse yourself from the meeting,” recounted Matona.

Consultant Nicholas Linell: According to Tsotsi, he was summoned to Nkandla to meet former president Jacob Zuma and former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni. There, discussions were held with Linell, a consultant who then draw up a list of which executives at Eskom would be suspended and consequently fired. Linell submitted an affidavit in which he says Myeni choose the names of who would stay and who would go at Eskom.

SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni: Surprisingly, Myeni also had a hand in appointing Gupta aligned associates to the Eskom board as she was allegedly complicit in naming who should serve. According to former Eskom chairperson Zola Tsotsi, he met Myeni and Zuma and they made the high-level decisions to place whom they wanted at Eskom.

President Jacob Zuma: Matona alleges that Zuma held a meeting with him to apologise for his axing. His removal from Eskom was not personal and the government-held him in high regard, Zuma allegedly told Matona. However, Zuma has denied the meeting ever took place.

Eskom chairperson: Zola Tsotsi left the embattled utility in 2015 after he came into a disagreement with the board for suspending Matona. Tsotsi signed off on the suspension letter dated March 2015, and was allegedly acting on the orders of President Jacob Zuma and the Gupta family to make way for the influential family’s associates to infiltrate the company. This would then pave way for the family’s companies to attain lucrative contracts.

Incoming Eskom CEO Brian Molefe: While Matona was on suspension, former Transnet CEO Brian Molefe was ushered in to replace him. Though Molefe had a stellar reputation as CEO of the railway entity and was revered for ensuring loadshedding was kept at bay – he would later be fingered as a key player in partnering with the Guptas. Molefe was found to have visited their Saxonwold residence on several occasions and accepted cash bribes from the family.

Watch Tshediso Matona’s testimony at the Zondo Commission below: 

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