Home South African News #EskomInquiry Gigaba ‘promises’ to be as ‘honest as possible’

#EskomInquiry Gigaba ‘promises’ to be as ‘honest as possible’

221
SHARE

What was clear was that it was becoming increasingly apparent that even tenders that appeared lawful may have been tainted, Gigaba said.

Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba at the #EskomInquiry. File Image: IOL

CAPE TOWN – The Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba came before the Public Enterprises committee on State capture on Tuesday. 

Gigaba started his testimony with the basic fact that he will try to be as honest as possible to account for his time as the Public Enterprises minister, between 2010 and 2014.

“I take the allegations into state capture seriously”, said Gigaba as he began his written testimony. 

The minister said that “it has been disheartening and shocking to note that some of the appointments that were made during his tenure and that were hailed at the time, have now become the subject of state capture allegations.”

In terms of board appointments at State-owned Enterprises (SOEs), Gigaba said that ” the department will recommend candidates to fill these positions”. It should note that names are sourced widely and eventually cabinet approves all board appointments.

It, therefore, should be said that the minister of public enterprises doesn’t have a role in procurement, according to Gigaba. The minister essentially is kept at arm’s length throughout the process.

Brian Dames

Gigaba said that former Eskom CEO, Brian Dames’s resignation was a loss to the company and in fact Gigaba tried asked him to stay on when he wanted to leave. 

“Eskom couldn’t lose Mr Dames at that time as it was a critical time for the company and he was needed to maintain stability to Eskom.”

“I thought it was important for him to stay. I recall having told them that Eskom could not afford to lose Brian at that time because of the massive build programs that Eskom was involved in, and because they needed to raise capital in respect of those build projects.”

“It was a critical time for Eskom and Brian was necessary to maintain company stability during that period,” Gigaba explained.

“I speak sincerely when I say that I endeavored to the best of my ability to ensure Brian remained as Eskom, and it was unfortunate to have lost his services.”

According to the Home Affairs Minister the board accepted Dames’s second resignation in 2013, but Gigaba tried to keep him at Eskom. “It was unfortunate to see him go.”

The main reason for Dames departure was the tensions between him and former chair  of Eskom Zola Tsotsi. 

“The Eskom board needed to appoint a new CEO following Dames’ resignation. when I left DPE, a new CEO had not been appointed.”

In terms of Dames’ testimony and specifically a meeting arranged by Gigaba’s adviser Siyabonga Mahlangu with the Gupta brothers, the minister said that he honestly knew nothing about the alleged meeting.

“I can also tell you that Brian did not call me about this meeting either before it happened or afterwards. The first time I heard of this meeting was following Mr. Dames’ testimony to this inquiry”, Gigaba said.

“If anything about the meeting made Mr. Dames uncomfortable, I’d go as far as to say that he should have called me about this. We had a good working relationship, and we communicated often.”

Tsholofelo Molefe

In terms of the appointment of Tsholofelo Molefe as finance director, Gigaba said that he thought she was more that qualified to hold that position.

Transnet 

In terms of Transnet, Gigaba said that the Transnet board had the same problem as the Eskom board. He tried to appoint board members that were strong and competent. 

“If people we appointed went on to do wrong things later, we cannot be held accountable, unless there are facts that we may have overlooked,” Gigaba said.

Gigaba then talked about the appointment of Brian Molefe as CEO at Transnet. 

Gigaba said that Molefe was a “stellar candidate” and in fact the markets responded really well to his appointment. 

Gupta Tenders 

Gigaba then testified on the Gupta-related tenders. The minister said that this is challenging issue as the Gupta links are only coming to surface now.

The minister said that he was asked to inform the committee of any Gupta-related contracts that were concluded during his tenure at the Department of Public Enterprises.

What was clear was that it was becoming increasingly apparent that even tenders that appeared lawful may have been tainted, Gigaba said. 

The Home Affairs Minster said that the controversial Trillian contract with Eskom in fact took place outside his tenure as Public Enterprises Minister. 

“I therefore cannot comment on them. The only interaction I had in relation to Tegeta is when I ordered a forensic investigation in 2017 as the Minister of Finance.”

Gigaba said that it was only at Denel that there was Gupta-related contract he was aware of. This contract was the proposed VR Laser Asia partnership, which happened after his tenure as Minister of Public Enterprises. 

Gigaba then said that as Minister of Finance, he did not give concurrence to the VR Laser proposal.

In terms of Transnet contracts, Gigaba spoke on the procurement of 1064 locomotives.

The contract that was given to the minister for approval at the time (May 2013) would cost R38.6bn. This would be over a seven-year period. 

In June 2013 Gigaba said that he received a decision memorandum. In this memo, the business case for the tender was given.

“In summary, the new locomotive purchase was going to create value for Transnet,” Gigaba said. 

Essentially the tender would lead to benefits for the economy. According to the testimony this would include the R68 billion in localisation, also the development of manufacturing skills for people and the much needed creation of jobs.

“I was satisfied with the business case, and I approved the memorandum on 3 August 2013,” he said.

Gigaba said he was not involved in the procurement of locomotives and was involved in granting authorisation under the PFMA.

Gigaba said that in terms of the New Age Sponsored Breakfasts, the minister said way back in 2011 he became aware of this issue and was upset about these sponsorships because it was a large sum of money, even though it was below the materiality threshold and was strictly within the operational purview of the board.

“I felt it was inappropriate that such large sums of money were being spent on breakfast sponsorships, especially in the midst of such large-scale build projects that were being undertaken.”

Gigaba said that he then issued a directive that all sponsorship requests be routed through the department.

In 2013, the Public Protector created an investigation mandate into looking into the sponsorships. 

“I was informed that the Public Protector’s main focus was an investigation into fruitless and wasteful expenditure at Eskom, Transnet, SABC and Telkom, and the allegation that the Department exercised undue influence on those companies in deciding to sponsor the TNA breakfasts,” Gigaba said.

“It is apparent from what I have just stated, and from the written instructions that I sent to the chairs of the SOC’s (state-owned companies) that I was doing the opposite of militating in favour of the TNA sponsorships,” the minister said.

Anoj Singh

Gigaba said on the appointment of Mr Anoj Singh to the position of CFO position at Transnet that “I was advised by the Department that Mr. Singh had been at Transnet since 2003 and had institutional memory, that the position of CFO had been vacant since 2009 and Mr. Singh had been acting in that position since that date.”

“Mr. Singh’s profile clearly set out his career progression at Transnet was highly commendable and there were no complaints about either him or his personal and business associations, ” Gigaba said. 

QUESTIONS BY COMMITTEE 

Advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara was one of the first to question Minister Gigaba. 

Vanara asked the minister what needs to be done to improve the system in terms of board appointments? 

Gigaba stated that the department needed to find an alignment, so candidates are well vetted.

The minster said that there are loopholes in the system that can undermine the process.

Vanara asked Gigaba “what was the relationship between you and Mr. Siyabonga Mahlangu? 

The minister said that Mahlangu was one of his legal advisers.

Gigaba said that he thinks the boards of SOE’S company’s should stop getting involved in operational matters and focus more on pushing a strategic policy agenda to bring about transformation. 

Vanara said that he shares the ministers’s sentiments on that issue.

THIS IS A DEVELOPING STORY 

WATCH THE TESTIMONY LIVE BELOW: 

GUPTAS

Yesterday it was reported that he Gupta brothers would not testify at the Eskom Inquiry, as they are not in the country. 

Lawyers representing the Guptas told the chairperson of The Public Enterprises Committee Zukiswa Rantho that the brothers will not appear at the Eskom Inquiry as they are currently not in the country. 

The committee had summoned the family to Parliament to answer questions on allegations that they used their political connections to former president Jacob Zuma to benefit from business dealings at Eskom. 

Duduzane Zuma was also summoned, it’s unclear whether he will appear before the committee.

The Gupta brothers’ whereabouts are unknown, as they are also being sought by the Hawks for charges related to the Estina Dairy Farm project.

Former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni will also not appear before the committee. This is the third time that the Myeni has failed to appear before the committee.

Last week, she told MPs that she was booked off sick by her doctor and would not be able to appear.

She made the same excuse this time around, saying she was still booked off sick.

The City Press Newspaper reported on Sunday that Myeni was seen last week Tuesday, the day she was meant to appear in Parliament, having drinks at lavish hotel in Pretoria.

-BUSINESS REPORT