Eskom's lies, lies, and more lies


Brian Molefe is no longer the head of Eskom.

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom’s financial results have revealed how the power utility and its leaders repeatedly misled the country about its business dealings with Gupta-linked companies and its apparently unlawful efforts to help them make hundreds of millions of rand.

The power utility’s acting board chairperson, Zethembe Khoza, says it is now investigating why it paid Trillian almost R500-million in consultancy fees.

Meanwhile, Eskom chief financial officer (CFO) Anoj Singh has promised to submit what he called a tell-all report about two allegedly Gupta-sponsored trips he took to Dubai.

Emotional Eskom denials greeted then Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report and its explosive revelations about how Eskom had seemingly broken the law to ensure that Gupta-owned Tegeta made millions in coal contracts. 

At the time the now former Eskom chairperson Ben Ngubane said: “Thuli Madonsela has struck a deadly blow against Eskom and against the people of South Africa.”

READ - Eskom confirms executives, including Molefe, to get bonuses

Months later the so-called Gupta Leaks emails have revealed that Madonsela’s concerns about the Eskom board and its Gupta connections were just the tip of the iceberg.

On Wednesday, Eskom’s new leadership was forced to admit what the power utility has repeatedly denied - or perhaps, blatantly lied about: the fact that it paid the Gupta-Linked Trillian company almost R500-million in consultancy fees but seemingly has no idea why.

According to acting chairperson Khoza, “Eskom has decided to commission an independent review to focus on Trilian’s role at Eskom in particular … around the consulting work performed for the company.”

Sikhonathi Mantshantsha, Financial Mail's deputy editor, said: "It breaks the Public Finance Management Act, it breaks the Companies Act, it breaks every common law that is there. Surely they are owed R500-million by Trillian?  And if they are not owed, they should know what they have paid for.”

Eskom's second lie was about the fact that  Eskom actively assisted Gupta-owned Tegeta to buy the Optimum coal mine.

CFO Singh has been forced to admit he signed a R1.6-billion guarantee to Absa for Tegeta to buy Optimum.

He's also asked for more time to explain his luxurious trips to Dubai, allegedly funded by the Guptas.

WATCH - Eskom financial officer fends off questions on Dubai visit

Singh said: “I can go on record and say I’ve not received a bribe, I’ve not taken a bribe from anybody. As it relates to the gifts, I will be submitting a tell-all document, so let’s just wait for that.”

Added to these latest revelations are allegations that Eskom deliberately flouted the law to justify an undeserved R30-million pension payout to former CEO Brian Molefe – later cancelled by Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown.

Despite all this apparent dishonesty, Molefe still received a staggering R8.9-million bonus from Eskom – for just eight months' work.