NEWS

Former Eskom CEO Tells State Capture Inquiry: 'It's Too Late'

MPs heard on Monday that at least four of the about 40 people expected to testify before the committee had received death threats.

18/10/2017 09:01 SAST | Updated 18/10/2017 09:55 SAST
Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Brian Dames, former chief executive officer of Eskom.

BREAKING: Brian Dames, former Eskom CEO, has just told parliament that the inquiry into state capture is welcome, but is "too late". More to follow.

***

The second day of the parliamentary probe into corruption and maladministration at state-owned companies Eskom, Transnet and Denel is expected to get underway at 9.30am on Wednesday. The first witness is said to be Brian Dames, a former Eskom CEO who stepped down in 2013.

The much-anticipated inquiry is being conducted by the National Assembly's public enterprises committee, under the acting chairmanship of ANC MP Zukiswa Rantho.

Asked on Monday, at the end of the investigation's first session, who would be appearing the next day, Rantho said she could not say, citing security concerns.

MPs heard on Monday that at least four of the about 40 people expected to testify before the committee had received death threats.

READ: State Capture Inquiry Cheat Sheet: The Key Questions, Witnesses and Issues

Rantho said the first phase of the inquiry would focus on Eskom, though neither former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe, nor Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown, is expected to appear before next week.

Among others who may testify before the committee are President Jacob Zuma's son Duduzane Zuma, as well as the Gupta brothers Ajay and Atul. The inquiry has the power to subpoena witnesses.

Rantho suggested the investigation could run for several months, up to July next year, although she said she was keen to submit recommendations to the National Assembly before Parliament rises at the end of this year. Such recommendations would be based on the investigation's findings up to that time.

She has also said that no-one appearing before her committee was an "accused", and that the investigation is "inquisitorial in nature".

Her terms of reference include coal contracts entered into by the state-owned company; the pension pay-out made to its former CEO Brian Molefe; the remuneration and appointment of Eskom board members and executive management, as well as other maladministration, governance and procurement issues.

The alleged "capture" of Eskom and other state-owned company business by the Guptas has incensed many South Africans.

Eskom is by far South Africa's largest state-owned company, with annual revenues three times that of Transnet, and six times that of SAA. The utility provides more than 90 percent of the country's electricity, has assets valued at R710-billion, and a capital spending programme of about R350-billion over the next five years.

Monday's session heard evidence from University of Cape Town academic Professor Anton Eberhard, who among other things warned of the impact corruption and maladministration at Eskom was having on the South African economy.

He also told MPs that the country could not afford to build new nuclear power plants.

"[These] would be extremely difficult to finance [given] our current fiscal status."

On Tuesday, President Jacob Zuma reshuffled his Cabinet, moving Security Minister David Mahlobo into the post of Energy Minister. Unions, NGOs and opposition parties have interpreted this as a manoeuvre to advance the nuclear deal South Africa is seeking to strike with Russia.

Mahlobo is seen as a Zuma ally, and has accompanied Zuma on trips to Russia to discuss the provision of nuclear plants.