Eskom’s failure to submit documents timeously has come in for a lashing from the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa).
POWER utility Eskom came in for a lashing for submitting documents for Tuesday’s meeting of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) at the last minute.
Eskom’s failure to submit the documents by last Thursday’s deadline has annoyed the watchdog body, and the entity will now be reported to the presiding officers.
Eskom was meant to make presentations on its 2019-20 expansions, its annual report, and give feedback on investigations by the Special Investigative Unit (SIU).
The meeting was a continuation of an earlier one a few months back.
Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said they received correspondence at 12.55pm on Monday, saying that the 127-page presentation was not approved by the board.
“I try as much as possible to be calm. It is a trend that we have been observing with Eskom day in and day out, when a hearing has been scheduled.
“I am not sure how we are expected to function optimally, effectively and efficiently when, for all intents and purposes, we are given a paper mill on the eve of a hearing on a matter as complex as this,” he said.
Hlengwa added that it was unfair to Scopa.
“Eskom needs to take us into confidence and the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) as to whether this is how they want to continue.”
Hlengwa said he had been tempted to lobby other MPs to cancel the hearing, but doing so would be a victory for non-accountability and non-oversight.
“This kind of conduct is totally unacceptable. I want to indicate that I have reached a point where I am at the end of my rope and I am taking up this matter with the House chair, and if presiding officers need to intervene then they must, so that Eskom can clarify and they can determine how oversight takes place.”
Hlengwa said that they were notified that the document had not been approved by the board, something that had hindered preparations by Scopa for the meeting.
“When there is no approval, where does that place the committee for preparations? Administration can’t proceed effectively and efficiently with the work,” he said.
“To be quite frank I am just sick and tired of having to repeat the same thing over and over again.
“Every time Eskom has to appear before us we constantly have to wrangle about due process and the inability to communicate efficiently as if we are a bunch of unreasonable people in this committee if there are challenges.”
Board chairperson Malegapuru Makgoba said he had urged and encouraged staff to prepare for the meeting on time and to do things properly.
“I don’t like receiving documents over 100 pages to read within 24 hours. The people of Eskom know that from me,” Makgoba said, before explaining that the board normally receives documents seven days before their meetings.
Hlengwa said it cannot be right on the eve of a meeting to be furnished with documents.
“What we are not going to do is to give victory to non-accountability. It is not going to happen, if maybe, that is the modus operandi to create an element of frustration for us in this committee,” he said.
DA MP Bendicta van Minnen said it was a problem that the documents arrived so late.
“We really have had no time to read the documents to the depth we have had to. It does make it difficult,” Van Minnen said.
Deputy Minister Phumulo Masualle said: “I fully understand and appreciate the anguish the members are expressing.”
Department of Public Enterprises director-general Kgathatso Tlhakudi has apologised for the delay.
“If there was an error on our side we should have communicated the complexity and level of effort required to compile information asked to share with yourselves,” Thlakudi said.
It emerged that Eskom sent the documents to the department on Friday night for approval.
Thlakudi made a commitment that they would communicate timeously in the future if there were serious challenges.
“We want to apologise for the situation we put the committee in. We make a commitment that we shall improve going forward,” he said.
But, Hlengwa warned: “I want to place on record that this committee is not going to be victims of micromanagement of Eskom.“
After some discussions the meeting was cancelled and it was agreed that it would rescheduled.
– Political Bureau