Eskom logo. PHOTO: Supplied/Eskom website

In The News South Africa

Former Eskom board member implies Tsotsi redacted minutes

PARLIAMENT, November 21 – Former Eskom chairman Zola Tsotsi appeared to have changed meeting records to dissimulate his attempt to impose a suspended employee as CEO in 2015 after Tshediso Matona was sidelined.
Former board member Venete Klein told the Parliamentary inquiry into the power utility on Tuesday,  that the board had been uncomfortable with a written proposal by Tsotsi to name “a young man” in Matona’s post.
“It was a bitter pill for me when I discovered that he was on suspension and the chairman chose not to tell us but put forward his name to serve as acting CEO,” Klein said.
She said board members persuaded Tsotsi that the young man in question was not a suitable candidate, but when she later had sight of the minutes of the meeting where this discussion happened, these were grossly inaccurate.
“I found that the minutes that had been signed off actually said the opposite, that the board wanted to bring him in and that he objected. The letter clearly says that Mr Tsotsi wanted to bring him in.”
She added: “l lost complete confidence.”
Under questioning, Klein conceded that the decision to sack Matona, financial director Tsholofele Molefe, group capital executive Dan Marokane and commercial and technology executive Matshela Koko for the stated reason that they might interfere with an investigation Tsotsi announced at Eskom, prompted a downgrade of the parastatal’s credit rating by Standard and Poor’s in 2015.
She defended the board’s support for placing former CEO Brian Molefe on a full pension, though as a fixed-term employee he did not qualify for the benefit. Molefe appeared at the time to be the best, if not the only person, able to stop load-shedding and stem the financial losses of some R400 million a day that accompanied the scheduled blackouts, she said.
Matona did not appear to have matters in hand and when Molefe arrived, she said: “It was the first time that the glass looked half full.”
Klein said she relied on assurances from former company secretary and head of legal Suzanne Daniels that the exceptional pension arrangement had been above board. It saw Molefe claim a retirement package of R30 million when he left the company in late 2016 after he was fingered in former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report on state capture.
“I relied on Ms Daniels. I had no reason to suspect it was not correct,” Klein said.
She rejected suggestions from MPs that Eskom “bent over backwards” to give Molefe a large pension, saying the problem was created by Daniels failing to set any time period in Molefe’s contract, though it was not meant to be indefinite.
She said Molefe raised the problem in November 11, and a report on the matter was sent to Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown. Brown did not respond to it, she added.
Klein could not explain why an attempt by the board to suspend Koko from Eskom again in March this year, had come to nought, insisting that she had been intent he should be suspended and he himself had conceded that his actions were suspendable.
Evidence leader Ntuthuzelo Vanara asked whether the chairman of the board, Ben Ngubane, blocked it because, according to the testimony of an earlier witness, pressure was exerted by the Gupta brothers at the centre of the so-called capture of South Africa’s state-owned enterprises.
Suspended Eskom board spokesman Khulani Qoma has told the inquiry current chairman Zethembe Khoza told him he had phoned “a G brother” of the plans to suspend Koko, and that this seemingly prompted Brown to intervene. 
According to Klein, Koko had declined to give the board reasons in person why he should not be suspended, saying instead that he would give his reasons in writing to Ngubane. Klein said she later asked Ngubane what reasons Koko had advanced but was never told.
“I never got a response from Dr Ben as to what that was.”
Tsotsi was chairman from 2011 to 2015. The suspension of the four senior executives eventually led to the secondment of Molefe and now suspended chief financial officer Anoj Singh from Transnet to Eskom. Molefe was expected to testify before the inquiry later on Tuesday.

Former Eskom chairman Zola Tsotsi appeared to have changed meeting records to dissimulate his attempt to impose a suspended employee as CEO in 2015 after Tshediso Matona was sidelined.

Former board member Venete Klein told the Parliamentary inquiry into the power utility that the board had been uncomfortable with a written proposal by Tsotsi to name “a young man” in Matona’s post.

“It was a bitter pill for me when I discovered that he was on suspension and the chairman chose not to tell us but put forward his name to serve as acting CEO,” Klein said.

She said board members persuaded Tsotsi that the young man in question was not a suitable candidate, but when she later had sight of the minutes of the meeting where this discussion happened, these were grossly inaccurate.

“I found that the minutes that had been signed off actually said the opposite, that the board wanted to bring him in and that he objected. The letter clearly says that Mr Tsotsi wanted to bring him in.”

She added: “l lost complete confidence.”

Under questioning, Klein conceded that the decision to sack Matona, financial director Tsholofele Molefe, group capital executive Dan Marokane and commercial and technology executive Matshela Koko for the stated reason that they might interfere with an investigation Tsotsi announced at Eskom prompted a downgrade of Eskom’s credit rating by Standard and Poor’s.

She defended the board’s support for placing former CEO Brian Molefe on a full pension, though as a fixed-term employee he did not qualify for the benefit. Molefe appeared at the time to be the best, if not the only person, able to stop load-shedding and stem the financial losses of some R400 million a day that accompanied the scheduled blackouts, she said.

“It was the first time that the glass looked half full,” she said.

Klein said she relied on assurances from former company secretary and head of legal Suzanne Daniels that the exceptional pension arrangement had been above board. It saw Molefe claim a retirement package of R30 million when he left the company in late 2016 after he was fingered in former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report on state capture.

“I relied on Ms Daniels. I had no reason to suspect it was not correct,” Klein said.

Tsotsi was chairman from 2011 to 2015. The suspension of the four senior executives eventually led to the secondment of Molefe and now suspended chief financial officer Anoj Singh from Transnet to Eskom. Molefe was expected to testify before the inquiry later on Tuesday.

 

ANA

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *