POLITICS

Has Eskom Been De-Guptad? These 5 Questions Need To Be Answered First

The energy giant has been racked by scandal and is subject to at least seven inquiries. 

23/06/2017 19:03 SAST | Updated 23/06/2017 19:03 SAST
Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
A woman carries fire wood on her head as she walks below Eskom's elecricity pylons in Soweto, South Africa, August 8, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown on Friday announced a "new dawn" board for Eskom. She put in place four new Eskom directors and will add five more before making it a permanent board -- this will be a clean sweep, believes the minister.

Has she gone far enough?

The energy giant has been racked by scandal and is subject to at least seven inquiries.

The probes are related to: the circumstances under which the former CEO Brian Molefe was retired on a R30 million pension and then rapidly rehired when the minister put the kibosh in the lucrative payout. He was then fired.

A second inquiry relates to if and how a company, which appointed former acting CEO Matshela Koko's daughter a director received significant contracts. An omnibus inquiry into all these issues including alleged state capture has been referred to the special investigating unit.

Eskom is laced through the allegations contained in the Gupta leaks. Two previous acting Eskom CEO's and one former permanent CEO have allegedly been courted by the Gupta family. The family's coal business, Tegeta, is alleged to have been favoured by various Eskom executives and by the previous board: this included pre-payments for coal contracts and inflated values on contracts.

Tegeta denies that it received favourable terms. Here are the 5 questions:

Why has chief financial officer Anoj Singh escaped scrutiny?

Singh moved with Molefe from Transnet to Eskom. As CFO, he is central to all the questionable contracts at Eskom.

Is the company Trillian still operating at Eskom?

Trillian is a company jointly owned by Gupta lieutenant Salim Essa and businessman Eric Wood. Trillian has been fingered by the Treasury in numerous questionable business practices at Transnet.

Reports by AmaBhungane said Eskom granted substantial contracts to Trillian, which is a management consultancy and capital raising company. A key question is why Eskom, with a large and experienced Treasury, requires Trillian's services.

Is Tegeta being favoured?

Tegeta is the Gupta family's key coal mining company and it has reportedly received R3.7-billion worth of contracts deemed questionable.

Is Koko off the hook?

The Gupta family's television channel, ANN7, has reported that former acting CEO Koko is off the hook after an inquiry cleared him. Is this so? While Koko is a highly skilled technocrat, he has clouds hanging over him.

How high will electricity tariffs go?

The capture of Eskom is one of the factors driving up electricity prices. Eskom has requested stratospheric increases from the electricity regulator, Nersa. Will the new interim board be able to better run Eskom to ensure consumers are not punished.