Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown is facing tough questions over Eskom CEO Brian Molefe's reappointment –- and the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism's series of stories this week will certainly not make her situation any easier.
AmaBhungane published two articles, with the on Wednesday allegations by former Minerals Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi who claimed Molefe and Eskom chairperson Ben Ngubane had a role in the sale of Optimum Mines to the Guptas. In their second article, amaBhungane showed how Brown may have lied when denying links between Eskom and Gupta-affiliated company, Trillian.
Here are five things from amaBhungane's findings that we need to pay attention to:
- Glencore, which previously owned Optimum, had placed it into business rescue in August last year after Molefe refused to renegotiate the price of a long-term supply contract and reinstated a disputed R2,17 billion penalty that Optimum supposedly owed for supplying substandard coal. Ramatlhodi said he met with Molefe and Ngubane and they allegedly demanded that he suspend all Glencore's mining licenses in South Africa, pending the payment of the R2,17 billion penalty.
- When Ramatlhodi alleges that after he refused, Zuma replaced him. Everything went smoothly when Mosebenzi Zwane, a Free State politician apparently linked to the Guptas, was put in Ramatlhodi's place.
- In December, Brown denied there were ongoing contracts between Eskom and Trillian, but amaBhungane alleges Trillian or its subsidiary companies had invoiced Eskom for R266 million and R153 million between April and December. Just R2 million short of what Madonsela said Trillian had paid towards the Optimum purchase consideration.
- Tegeta were short about R600 million needed to buy Optimum from Glencore. Eskom agreed to give Tegeta a R659 million prepayment for coal on the basis that the Gupta-owned company needed money upfront to "enable it to meet production requirements". But a Treasury investigation found there was no evidence that Optimum or Tegeta used the funds to procure any equipment, suggesting the money was used to make the controversial experience instead.
- Trillian had allegedly contributed R235 million to the purchase consideration for Optimum, which was due on April 14 last year. AmaBhungane claimed Trillian invoiced Eskom for R30,7 million on the same day and received payment immediately.