Former executive Koko ‘enabled’ utility’s capture
ESKOM board chairperson Jabu Mabuza has located the utility’s former executive Matshela Koko at the heart of what he said enabled the company to be run from outside by Gupta associates.
Mabuza took the stand at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry for the second day yesterday, where he testified about email communication in which Koko had apparently exchanged confidential and classified information on the utility with external parties to give them a business advantage.
Mabuza said the foundation of Eskom’s capture was cemented in 2015, following the suspension of four executives in March, which included then acting chief executive Tshediso Matona, chief financial officer Tsulu Molefe, head of commercial Dan Marokane and Koko, who headed generation.
He said the suspensions, which came amid massive load shedding, created space for other executives to be brought into Eskom, including Brian Molefe as chief executive and Anoj Singh as chief financial officer.
Mabuza said of the four executives who were suspended, Koko curiously became the only one to be allowed to return to his job.
“It is significant that on that day, in the emails I referred to the commission, his activities on his email… we hold the view that having been suspended with the four – being head of generation he should have been suspended – he was brought in and he had to demonstrate his capability and his allegiance to the capturers…” Mabuza said.
One of the emails presented to the inquiry had the subject as “Directives for the implementation of the National Treasury cost containment instruction and Government Gazette” and was sent to “The Businessman”, which Mabuza said was a Gupta associate, Salim Essa.
“This document is a response from National Treasury directing various public entities on how to contain costs… On returning to office, Mr Koko sends this material to Mr Essa to demonstrate to him what business opportunities exist in Eskom,” Mabuza said.
He also referred to another email sent by Koko to “The Businessman” relating to a programme aimed at investing in top engineers, including guidelines, adding that it enabled the partnership between consulting firm consulting McKinsey and the Essa-owned Trillian.
McKinsey and Trillian went on to rake in millions of rand from Eskom in fees for “turnaround strategy” advice.
Mabuza said the information enabled Essa to look for partners who were interested in Eskom contracts and offered to partner with them through Trillian, which did not exist before. This is what this whole scheming finally led us to McKinsey and Trillian,” he said.
He said Eskom’s size attracted looting, adding that law enforcement agencies had to do their work to hunt down those who raided the coffers of the utility.
“If Eskom was a listed company it would have been number two if (not) number one in its size if you look at their revenue of about R190 billion and what they buy or spend, just shy of R100bn.
“They are big as a target, that if you get hold of them you can really be in business and live well for a long time. Whether you can sleep well is another question,” he said.
Mabuza also called on commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to call on Koko, Molefe, Singh, among other individuals, to appear before the commission and explain themselves.
“What we have seen here is that we have people of skills, the basis on which they were placed at Eskom, but they had other skills which Eskom can do best without,” he said. Jabu Mabuza
Today, Eskom executive Daniel Mashigo was to be the second witness, giving evidence on the Brakfontein Optimum Coal mine, which was controversially acquired by the Gupta-owned Tegeta in 2015.
By Siviwe Feketha - firstname.lastname@example.org
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