The Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba's, first big test is going to be his handling of National Treasury's final report on the review of coal contracts entered into by Tegeta Exploration & Resources (Pty) Ltd and Eskom.
The draft report reportedly finds inter alia that there was no evidence that the advance payment was used for its mining operations and recommends that the R659 million be converted to a loan with interest payable by Tegeta Exploration and Resources (Pty) Ltd.
The controversy surrounding the report is not new and exploded last year when Tegeta Exploration & Resources (Pty) Ltd threatened to apply for an urgent interdict to prevent National Treasury handing me a copy of the report, which I had requested in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (No. 2 of 2000).
In a letter, dated 23 June 2016, Tegeta Exploration & Resources accused National Treasury of trying to defame their business as follows: "... your efforts to obtain our feedback on the request of Mr Maynier must be seen as an unwarranted attempt to obtain approval to publish your report to a political party with the motive of defaming our business with facts not tested or commented on."
And Tegeta Exploration & Resources went on to threaten National Treasury as follows: "We will consider obtaining further legal advice in launching an urgent application to interdict you from releasing the report until it has been subjected to scrutiny of all parties concerned."
Tegeta Exploration & Resources (Pty) Ltd and Eskom clearly have something to hide and have worked hard to frustrate and delay the review conducted by National Treasury.
This matter has gone on for too long and it is now imperative that the report be completed, made public and that action be taken against Tegeta Exploration & Resources (Pty) Ltd and Eskom.
I have, despite numerous requests for access to the report, in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, (No. 2 of 2000), been unable to obtain a copy of the report from National Treasury.
The reply is always the same: "Your request has been assessed and it has been established that the report is not yet finalised. Some technical information was received from Eskom and this necessitated the appointment of experts to assist in reviewing it. The report will be released once the experts have completed the review process."
However, I have not given up and on 05 April 2017 I submitted a further request for access to the report, in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (No. 2 of 2000), to National Treasury.
The handling of the final report will be the first test of the minister's willingness to stand up to his political master, Jacob Zuma, and his most important clients, the Guptas, who control Tegeta Exploration & Resources (Pty) Ltd.
David Maynier MP
DA Shadow Minister of Finance