Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown maintains she did not lie to Parliament but was misled by Eskom about payments between the parastatal and Gupta-linked company, Trillian.
This comes after Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane released a scathing report on the matter on Thursday, finding that Brown inadvertently or deliberately made a misleading statement to the National Assembly and therefore acted in breach of the Executive Ethics Code.
In a statement by her department, Brown reaffirmed that, according to the information she received from Eskom, signed off by the (now former) CFO, Anoj Singh, no payments were made.
Brown maintains she relayed this information to Parliament, but it subsequently emerged that Eskom had indeed made payments to Trillian.
Lynne Brown admitted last year already about that lie to Parliament and in fact instructed that Eskom take action against the official who signed off on her parliamentary replies.— Scapegoat (@AndiMakinana) February 23, 2018
The PP couldn't have found any other way. 😏
Brown then quotes extracts from the Public Protector's report.
"No evidence or information could be found or was submitted during the investigation that Minister Brown deliberately intended to mislead Parliament and the public with her written reply...But by inadvertently conveying misleading information to Parliament, the Minister had violated the provisions of paragraph 2.3(a) of the Executive Ethics Code, and should be sanctioned by the President," Mkhwebane found.
"When I became aware that senior Eskom officials deliberately misled me, I immediately informed parliament's ethics committee and the public protector of the false information... I instructed Eskom's Board to take disciplinary action against those who conspired to mislead me, parliament and the country," Brown said.
Is it believable that despite widespread evidence and media reports, @DPE_ZA minister Lynne Brown, who appointed Molefe, Singh and Koko, did not know they were a bunch of bloody liars? https://t.co/UzZHDj9SdH— Chris Yelland (@chrisyelland) February 23, 2018
"The standard practice of responding to parliamentary questions relating to operational matters at state-owned companies involves obtaining answers directly from the companies [that] are signed off by the chief executive officer and, in this instance, it was signed off by Anoj Singh on behalf of the CEO. This practice was introduced after previous parliaments questioned the credibility of some answers to parliamentary questions... After the Eskom/Trillian incident, I instructed the department to strengthen oversight mechanisms to avoid a repeat."
Mkhwebane has recommended that president Cyril Ramaphosa "take the appropriate action" against Brown for violating the ethics code and the Constitution.