14 November 2017

South Africa: Minister Brown Responds to Eskom Enquiry Claims

Photo: Chris Kirchhoff/MCSA
Beaufort West, Western Cape province (file photo).

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has requested that those accused in the Eskom Parliamentary enquiry be given an opportunity to state their case.

"Unless the Parliamentary enquiry into allegations of malfeasance at State-owned companies gives those who have been accused of wrongdoing the opportunity to explain their actions, it will serve no higher function than advancing political agendas and further undermining the economy," said Minister Brown.

The Parliamentary enquiry into the power utility resumed on Tuesday. Parliament's Public Enterprises Portfolio committee is probing allegations of corruption and governance issues at Eskom.

Minister Brown, who is the shareholder representative, said the allegations against the accused must be investigated.

"Few South Africans will disagree that strengthening governance at State-owned companies is a national imperative. The companies form the spine of our economy and their well-being is therefore inextricably linked to that of the country. The swirl of allegations that have enveloped them must be investigated and set right.

"But for the Parliamentary inquiry to contribute to the promotion of justice and restoration of State-owned companies' credibility requires more than recording the uncontested, hearsay narratives of a selected line-up of witnesses - while excluding other voices," said the Minister.

She said by failing to subscribe to constitutional principles, the enquiry is taking the form of a kangaroo court.

"By failing to subscribe to fundamental constitutional principles such as affording people the right to reply - or to distinguish between hearsay and factual evidence - the inquiry takes the form of a kangaroo court intent on reaching pre-determined outcomes.

"In conclusion, let me state unequivocally, that I do not take instructions from anybody.

"If truth be told, Eskom officials intentionally misled me on the Trillian matter and the Acting Chairperson has assured me that those responsible will be charged by the company," Minister Brown said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister Ben Martins also expressed concern about developments at the enquiry.

"We wish to emphasize the evidence leader's failure to uphold the standard and principles of fairness in as far as the conduct of the Parliamentary enquiry is concerned. This is so, as the Parliamentary Enquiry is subject to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (the Constitution). The Constitution upholds due process of the law.

"The enquiry has to be lawful, transparent, accountable, fair, regular and valid. These elementary requirements cannot be substituted for less. This is so as the Parliamentary enquiry is not permitted to allow others to be implicated without being heard including their version being put before the enquiry," said Deputy Minister Martins.

"We put it on record that the Evidence Leader has failed the Parliamentary enquiry process in this regard. To be precise, the Parliamentary enquiry has permitted testimony implicating various persons without having advised those persons that they were going to be implicated."

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