The Eskom board has "finally" agreed to release a "sanitised" version of a report into the state of the power utility, after keeping the results of the investigation under wraps since July 2015, Financial Mail reported on Tuesday.
Who are they protecting
The paper said the hidden report had fuelled speculation that it contained allegations of corruption, and that keeping it under lock and key was an attempt to protect officials.
Financial Mail said it appeared that Eskom had "succumbed to pressure", specifically "dozens" of Financial Mail interviews with Eskom executives, both current and former. The board reportedly met last Thursday and agreed to release the report.
But the paper said a sanitised version could be released, as reporters had seen three different versions, in which the firm hired by Eskom to conduct the investigation, Dentons, says the investigation was stopped in its tracks early on by Eskom.
Financial Mail said while the initial report accused senior Eskom directors and executives of enriching themselves, the final version "now contains only generalisations that would be unusable if anyone at the utility were to be brought to account".
The Huffington Post South Africa reported in January that the power utility had been sitting on the report for months, prompting suspicions that senior executives possibly fingered in the report were being protected.
According to the paper, US law firm Denton was commissioned in 2015 to investigate a variety of problems at Eskom, including reasons for loadshedding and delays in the power utility's infrastructure build programme.
The Denton report was not released publicly, but Eskom chair Ben Ngubane previously told Business Day that it was completed and its recommendations had been implemented.
But Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown said the report could not be used as it was inadequate, the paper said.
Business Day said there were suspicions that people fingered in the report were being protected as Brown has said: "there are people's names there and we don't really want to do that."
After that, Eskom told Business Day a slightly different version of events. It said: "Having robustly reviewed the report, the board found that there were no new issues that were revealed by the review, thus confirming the board's assessment of the areas of improvement that was required to turnaround the business," said the state-owned electricity producer in a reply to questions.
"This invariably prompted the board to question the value of a continued review, given the time constraints as well as costs being incurred. Consequently, the board decided to start a rigorous implementation process of the recommendations immediately."
Releasing the report at the time it was presented to the board on June 25, 2015 would have had an adverse effect on employee morale, it said.