23 November 2017

South Africa: Minister Brown Wants Thorough Probe Into SOCs

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has called for a comprehensive investigation to get to the bottom of allegations of corruption at State-owned companies (SOCs).

The Minister said this when she testified before an inquiry into Eskom at the Good Hope Chamber in Parliament on Wednesday.

She said there is "overwhelming circumstantial evidence of malfeasance" at some SOCs and this includes information contained in the former Public Protector's State of Capture report, investigative reports commissioned by the Eskom Board, reports that she has requested in her capacity as Shareholder Representative, Treasury reports, annual financial results and leaked email correspondence.

The Minister said the information must be tested.

"Let me be very clear: the best thing for the country, for the economy, for Eskom - and for me, personally - is a comprehensive investigation.

"It was very heartening to read yesterday that the National Prosecuting Authority has established a crack investigative team.

"In addition, the Special Investigating Unit probe into Eskom that I have requested is awaiting proclamation - and it appears that the announcement of a commission of inquiry is imminent.

"It presently feels as if Eskom has been beaten to the ground and is being pinned down by the weight of untested allegations, while being kicked to death. It is said that the wheels of justice grind slowly. We desperately need to speed them up," she said.

Minister refutes Gupta Eskom Board allegations

Meanwhile, Minister Brown has rejected allegations made by former Eskom Board Chair Zola Tsotsi, who testified earlier on Wednesday that he attended a meeting at Minister Brown's house and that one of the Gupta brothers and an associate were present.

Tsotsi testified that suggestions were made by them on how board allocations to different subcommittees should be made.

"Before beginning my prepared statement, I would like to respond to Mr Zola Tsotsi's accusations... I have never consulted with anyone on my executive functions. Not Tony Gupta or Salim Essa or anyone else. Why would I hand over my functions to anyone else?

"In as far as board appointments are concerned, I report to Cabinet, and Cabinet decides who serves on boards. Recommendations to establish board subcommittees come to me from the boards in writing and I generally approve them as they know their members better than I do.

"In addition, I am astonished that Mr Tsotsi found it appropriate to attend a meeting with the President without conferring with me before the meeting nor bothering to share with me the outcomes of his engagement with the President."

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