#EskomInquiry: Committee looks to summon Myeni, Guptas and Duduzane Zuma
Committee to launch process to subpoena Myeni, Gupta brothers and Duduzane Zuma
The portfolio committee on public enterprises has resolved to launch a process to subpoena former SAA board chair Dudu Myeni, the Gupta brothers and their associates as well as former president Jacob Zuma's son Duduzane Zuma to appear before it for the Eskom inquiry.
Committee members discussed the way forward as all of them failed failed to appear before the inquiry, after having been sent extended invitations.
The committee has to wrap up the inquiry to table a report before Parliament.
ANC MP Rembuluwani Tseli said South Africans are waiting for recommendations from the committee. On Tuesday, the committee heard from Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, and was also supposed to hear from Myeni, the Gupta brothers and Duduzane Zuma this week.
They all sent letters declining the invitation to appear. Myeni wrote to the committee indicating that she is of ill-health.
Myeni said that she expected Parliament to show her compassion by extending her the right to human dignity as she is sick.
The Guptas lawyers, BDK Attorneys also wrote a letter, indicating that their clients would not appear because they are out of the country.
The letter criticised the inquiry', calling it “political showboating”. A letter from Duduzane’s lawyer Gary Mazaham indicated that his client had not received transcripts of testimonies of Ben Martins, Lucky Montana and Suzanne Daniels.
Unless the transcripts are received, the lawyer said he could not advise Duduzane to answer to the committee.
Chair Zukiswa Rantho said that the inquiry would resume after a break, as the committee has other business to address in the mean time.
The inquiry is meant to wrap up by the end of March.
No crystal ball to know which board members would cause problems - Gigaba
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba told the Eskom inquiry that he had no crystal ball to tell which board members of SOEs would be caught in allegations of state capture at the time their appointments were made.
He was responding to a question by chair Zukiswa Rantho about board appointments which happened during his tenure as public enterprise minister between 2009 and 2014.
“At the time of appointments there were no allegations against them,” he said. Gigaba added that it was unlikely that one person on a board would have enough influence and power to sway an entire board.
“A network was being created which tried in different areas, beyond public glare to influence certain decisions, that network became evident at a later stage,” he explained.
“There were also many very strong board members who would have prevented wrongdoing from happening. Be it Eskom, or Transnet, they were able to take decisions and ensure the companies are able to function.”
Gigaba said that things only really started to fall apart in 2015. “Without casting aspersions, the real significant, difficult, problematic decisions seem to start in 2015. Why and how I cannot speculate. I know in 2010 I was not aware of such allegations,” Gigaba said.
“Had one been aware, we would have acted.” He said some of the people appointed on boards were highly regarded by media and the investor community.
“No one back then would directly or immediately associate them with any allegation.
“As the minister back then, like anyone else I was not aware of the links to the Gupta family and I did not have a crystal ball to know the problems they would do in later years.”
Gigaba and Shivambu battle it out
EFF MP Floyd Shivambu asked Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba about an allegation in the "public discourse" that he had transported R500 000 to his girlfriend.
To this Gigaba said it was “absolute rubbish”.
Shivambu suggested that there was a syndicate including the Guptas, Salim Essa and Nazeem Howa who use politicians like Gigaba, Lynne Brown and Mosebenzi Zwane.
Gigaba appealed to the chair to intervene, indicating that such allegations should be submitted as a formal statement. Shivambu once again asked Gigaba if he had spent R500 000, which was generated from the Guptas, on his girlfriend.
“There are also allegations about you Mr Shivambu … I have already said these allegations are absolute rubbish. There is no truth to them.”
Gigaba called the allegations as a vilification campaign that Shivambu is actively involved in. Chair Zukiswa Rantho said that issues gathered in the inquiry would be processed.
I don't have accounts in Dubai - Gigaba
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba continued to battle it out through questions about his relationships with the Gupta family and visits to Dubai.
During questioning by EFF MP Floyd Shivambu, Gigaba said he could not recall the number of times he had been to the "Gupta compound".
"It is not in my diary, therefore I cannot go back to my diary to recall it," he said.
"I meet a lot of people, around the country for a variety of reasons. When it comes to social events I do not make the effort to calculate and record them," he told the committee.
Gigaba could not answer how many times he had been to Dubai. "I can confirm to you it had nothing to do with the Guptas," he said.
"I have never been invited to Dubai and hosted by them, it was either for business, once for personal business, that's it."
Gigaba also said he does not have bank accounts in Dubai. "I do not have an account in Dubai. I never had and I never will. I only have one account, it's with FNB, honorable member."
Gigaba was previously asked about his relations with the Gupta family by DA MP Natasha Mazzone. He said he attended Diwali celebrations and a wedding, but stopped going to events.
Ministers must not get involved in tenders - Gigaba
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba distanced himself from tenders awarded to service providers by state-owned enterprises during his time as minister of public enterprises.
Gigaba spoke over DA MP Natasha Mazzone’s questioning during the inquiry, stating “for the record” that ministers should not get involved in tenders.
“I was not involved in deciding who gets what contract where,” said Gigaba. He said his role was to sign the section 54 of the PFMA approval.
“You expect the board to exercise oversight to make sure there is no corruption. You expect that the executives will do the same,” he said.
It raises questions of their interests if they involved in procurement details, he said. “Ministers must remain out of procurement in state owned companies and in their departments.”
Gigaba said he is concerned and worried of what has taken place, but reiterated that as minister he was not involved in deciding who gets tenders.
“I leave that to the director general and officials assigned to know their information and take decisions.”
But Mazzone asserted that as minister the buck should stop with him.
Gigaba then insisted on responding, preventing Mazzone from continuing her questioning. He reiterated that he does not get involved in tenders. "It is wrong to say that ministers must get involved in tenders."
I am not at the centre of the naturalisation of the Guptas - Gigaba
The Eskom inquiry turned on its head as Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba had to answer questions about the naturalisation of the Guptas.
EFF MP and member of the portfolio committee on public enterprises Marshall Dlamini probed Gigaba on his citizenship.
Gigaba took offence, saying that it was an insult to his family and his late father. He said that the question amounted to an attack on his identity and called out Dlamini for trying to provoke him.
He went on to speak on the naturalisation of the Gupta family, and added that Dlamini was suggesting that he was at the centre of their naturalisation.
Gigaba said that “the letter of the law was followed to its full extent” in granting four out of the five Gupta family members citizenship in 2015.
He confirmed that Atul and Rajesh Guptas were citizens but that Ajay was not as he did not renounce his Indian citizenship.
Gigaba defends board appointments
Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba defended his reasons for board appointments of state-owned enterprises he had oversight during his tenure as public enterprise minister.
In his testimony presented at the Eskom inquiry on Tuesday, Gigaba spoke on the board appointments at Eskom, Transnet and Denel.
He said that the board reappointments at Eskom in 2011 came about as he saw a need to comply with good governance principles under the King Codes.
Some members had been serving for as long as nine years.
Gigaba also spoke on the appointment of Riaz Saloojee as Denel chief executive and the extension of his term.
Gigaba approved the decision by the board to appoint Saloojee given his expertise and experience. Saloojee’s appointment has been questioned in subsequent years, Gigaba noted.
“He had the expertise which we thought were needed for CEO of Denel,” said Gigaba.
He added that he did not “willy nilly” approve the extension of Saloojee’s contract as requested by the board. He informed them that guidelines had to be abided by, and Cabinet had to be informed on the the reasons for the extension.
As for Transnet, Gigaba said that when he arrived at the department of public enterprises, the Transnet board at the time was an acting board, operating on one-year appointments.
The department conducted a review which revealed that Transnet had the same problem as Eskom in that most of its directors had been serving for a longer term than permitted.
“We certainly attempted to appoint strong and competent boards,” said Gigaba. “We welcome any lessons in this regard, which will emerge from this inquiry. It is important however, that the inquiry concern itself with what we could have known at the time when making appointments,” he said during his testimony.
“If people we appointed went on to do wrong things later, we cannot be held accountable unless there is something about their profile which could have been detected at the time we appointed them, which showed they were likely to do wrong things.”
When asked if Anoj Singh’s appointment as Transnet CFO would have been reversed with knowledge of what has happened in the past few years, Gigaba said that it is a difficult question because he does not have the Powers to read the future.
“In hindsight, yes I will say it was not the best decision,” he said. “If the facts available in 2017 were available in 2011 when the decision was taken six years earlier, I am sure we would have taken a different decision.”
He reiterated that last year as finance minister he called for Singh and other executives at Eskom to be suspended.
He also called for Singh and others to step down, which Singh did. “I respect that,” he said.
Gigaba also listed the reason and expertise of certain board members such Brian Molefe and Iqbal Sharma were appointed at Transnet
In hindsight, TNA breakfasts were inappropriate – Gigaba
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba told the Eskom inquiry that he took issue with the Gupta-owned New Age breakfasts of state-owned enterprises.
He was accounting for his time as public enterprise minister before the oversight committee at Parliament on Tuesday.
He was alerted in 2011 about the sponsorships. “I 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,” he said.
The minister issued a directive that all sponsorship requests be routed through the department in future.
MP and member of portfolio committee Natasha Mazzone pointed out that between 2011 and 2012 the 8 sponsored breakfasts for Eskom amounted to R17.8m, and six breakfasts for Transnet amounted to R7.2m.
In response to this Gigaba reiterated that he was upset by the huge amount of money involved which is why he issued the directive. Gigaba said the breakfasts were not stopped immediately as it fell within the scope of the boards.
It also created a dilemma for ministers, it was a good programme to allow government to communicate their programmes to the public.
“In hindsight the programmes being implemented were inappropriate and should have been stopped right away.”
I was not favoured by Zuma – Gigaba
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba told the Eskom inquiry he was not favoured by former president Jacob Zuma.
He was responding to a question from MP Natasha Mazzone about his relationship with Zuma.
“I do not think I was a favoured member of president Zuma’s Cabinet,” he said.
Different members played different roles and had different skills sets. They are assigned roles given their skills sets, not because they are a favourite in Cabinet, he said.
“There are those who were not reshuffled, but it does not make them any favourites. I was not the first or second option for the position of finance minister, that is on public record.
“It’s not as if on the outset of 2015 when the first reshuffle took place in the finance portfolio I was the first person to be sent there,” he said.
“You know from public record I was not the second option. Someone else was in the position of finance minister.”
Gigaba grilled on Gupta relationships
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba told the Eskom inquiry that he does not know why the Gupta family extended invitations to him to attend Diwali celebrations and a wedding.
He was answering a question by MP Natasha Mazzone about his relationship with the Gupta family and specifically when he was introduced to them. “I was not formally introduced,” said Gigaba.
He said that he had met them at the Diwali celebrations and wedding he attended, but he could not attribute the “responsibility” of introducing him to them to a particular person.
Gigaba said a number of ministers and political figures were invited and attended the functions. “We started trickling out for various reasons,” he said.
When asked why he was invited to events which seemed rather personal, Gigaba said that he did not know why he was invited.
He added that he receives invitations all the time from people he does not know. He was even invited to a graduation ceremony. “People have different reasons why they do these things,” he said. Even businesses would invite celebrities, or even pay them to attend events, Gigaba explained.
He recalled being invited to a number of religious activities of individuals and families when he lived in Durban. “I did not find it to be an intrusion of privacy.”
He said nothing of significance was discussed at these events, except for the exchange of pleasantries. “Nothing of significance was discussed and no decisions were taken there.
Corruption, state capture a high cost to the economy – Gigaba
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said it is possible that corruption and state capture has cost the SA economy billions.
He was answering a question posed by evidence leader of the Eskom inquiry Advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara about the cost stat capture has had on the state of the country’s economy.
The SA economy has managed to climb back to the 1.3% growth target set on the 2017 budget, said Gigaba.
“You would see the slowing down of the economy in 2017 as allegations of corruption and state capture were prevalent.”
In December 2017, following political certainty provided through the ANC’s national conference and the assurance provided to investors that corruption and state capture were being settled, the rand began to strengthen against the dollar, said Gigaba.
Gigaba said actions such as the appointment of a new board at Eskom, and a new board appointment at Denel on the cards, as well as the halting of the Denel Asia partnership and the withdrawal of Denel’s case against Treasury has assisted in developing a positive sentiment in the first quarter of 2018.
“There is a high cost to corruption and allegations of state capture, and there is high benefit to action being taken against those issues,” he said.
This is important not only for investors’ perceptions but that of the SA public and the good of the country.
Gigaba also spoke on the appointment of outsiders to the Eskom board, he said it was not an affront to those executives currently at Eskom, but an opportunity to allow them “breathing space”.
“They would have worked with people involved so we want people who were not part of the processes to assist in moving the company forward,” he said.
Gigaba said the severe impact of the indecisiveness related to the board has cost a great deal. He added that Eskom had the highest guarantees from government and if it failed to fulfill its debt obligations the government would have had to step in, and this would have come with a severe effect on the SA economy.
“One is happy there is progress, there is decisive action going forward and the of Eskom to the economy will be minimized.”
Speaking generally on SOEs, Gigaba said that the “malicious” actions and activites should not recur, the lessons have been learnt after an enormous cost to the economy. “Nonetheless, the lesson is learned.”
I acted in the interests of SOCs and the public - Gigaba
Home Affairs Minister Gigaba says he acted in the interests of the public and state-owned companies (SOCs) during his time at the department of public enterprises.
As he was concluding his testimony before the committee on public enterprises at the Eskom inquiry on Tuesday, Gigaba affirmed his commitment to the Constitution and the public.
“During my DPE (department of public enterprises) tenure, I wanted my legacy to be one of decisive and fair action, and I acted accordingly.
“I made decisions to ensure good governance, and I appointed people who I viewed as competent to fulfill some very important roles in the SOCs that were under the DPE Portfolio.”
Gigaba said he is “severely disappointed” that the roles on boards appeared to be abused.
“I regret any role that I inadvertently played in the appointment of any director who subsequently failed to prioritise the interests of the relevant SOC, and more importantly, this country.”
Gigaba said he acted on the facts that were available to him when making appointments.
“I, at all times during my DPE tenure, acted in the interests of the SOCs and of the public. At no time did I interfere with board appointments, committee constitution, or tenders during my tenure.
Gigaba washes his hands of Gupta-related contracts at Eskom, Denel
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has washed his hands of Gupta-related contracts with state-owned enterprises during his tenure as public enterprise minister.
He was delivering his testimony before the portfolio committee on public enterprises on Tuesday. He spoke specifically to Gupta-related contracts with Eskom, Denel and Transnet.
“This topic is challenging as the extent of Gupta-related corruption is only now surfacing. It is becoming increasingly apparent that even tenders that appeared lawful may have been tainted,” he said.
“At Eskom, the primary issues that have attracted attention were Trillian, the Regiments Saga, and Tegeta. All of these occurred outside of my tenure at DPE (department of public enterprises). I cannot therefore 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,” he said.
With regard to Denel, Gigaba said he is also only aware of the VR Laser Asia partnership which also happened after his tenure at the DPE.
“As minister of finance, I did not give concurrence to the VR Laser proposal.”
Gigaba however spoke on Transnet contracts, particularly the procurement of 1064 locomotives.
The contract, submitted to Gigaba for his approval in May 2013, was estimated to cost R38.6bn over a seven-year period. In June 2013 he received a decision memorandum wherein the business case for the tender was made.
“In summary, the new locomotive purchase was going to create value for Transnet,” he said. The tender would also lead to benefits for the economy, including R68bn in localisation, the development of manufacturing skills and the creation of jobs, among other things.
Gigaba said that he was advised that an “enhanced governance process” was in place for the acquisition. A locomotive steering committee (LSO) was established and mandated by Transnet’s Executive Committee and chaired by the Group CEO.
“I was satisfied with the business case, and I approved the memorandum on 3 August 2013,” he said.
Gigaba explained he was not involved in the procurement of locomotives and was only involved in the process of granting authorization under the PFMA.
With regard to New Age Sponsored Breakfasts, Gigaba said in 2011 he became aware that New Age was looking to sponsor Transnet and Eskom for business breakfasts.
“I 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 then issued a directive that all sponsorship requests be routed through the department.
By 2013, the Public Protector had initiated an investigation 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.
“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,” he said.
Gupta lawyers slam Eskom inquiry in letter
Lawyers representing the Gupta brothers have slammed the credibility of Parliament's Eskom inquiry in a lawyer's letter, saying it is an exercise in 'political showboating' with unfair questioning of witnesses.
The letter, a response from the Gupta's attorneys to an invitation by the committee on public enterprises to testify, also states that no Gupta brothers are in South Africa at the moment.
"As it happens, our clients are not presently in the Republic of South Africa, being absent for business reasons. Accordingly, our clients decline the invitation to appear before the portfolio committee," it states.
The committee, which has for months been investigating maladministration at state power utility Eskom, had asked Gupta brothers Ajay, Atul and Rajesh to appear before it on Tuesday to testify.
On Monday the committee's chair had said the lawyers for the Guptas had sent her a letter to say they are not in the country. She did not, at the time, reveal any of the additional content of the letter.
“The fact that Parliament would apparently ask our clients to trawl through evidence of other parties themselves to discern the issues to which they should respond and which are relevant to the inquiry before the Portfolio Committee, speaks volumes for the vague, disordered, uncontrolled and untrammelled nature of the inquiry,” it read.
The letter also criticises the inquiry’s chair for allegedly not having control of proceedings.
“The proceedings are to a large extent an exercise in political show-boating by parliamentarians intent either on making political speeches, insulting witnesses or otherwise questioning witnesses in a manner which is not conducive to the resolution of identified or identifiable issues,” it read.
The letter also takes aim at what the attorneys claim is unfair questioning of witnesses by committee members.
“Witnesses are subjected to unfair questioning in relation to issues which are totally irrelevant to the oversight inquiry.
"The witnesses are confronted with allegations which amount to nothing but conjecture, speculation and biased conclusions without any underlying evidence…Witnesses are humiliated and belittled at the will of politicians.”
The committee's chair Zukiswa Rantho had not yet referred to the letter when the inquiry resumed on Tuesday.Gupta lawyers say Eskom inquiry 'political showboating' in letter
Dames' resignation a loss to Eskom – Gigaba
Former Eskom chief executive Brian Dames’ resignation from Eskom was a loss to the power utility, said Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba.
He was accounting for his time as public enterprise minister between 2009 and 2014 at the Eskom inquiry on Tuesday.
“It has been disheartening and shocking for me to witness some of the appointments that I made years ago, and which were hailed publicly as positive appointments for government, now being impugned,” he said of the allegations.
“I take seriously the task of assisting this committee in uncovering the extent of corruption that appears to have transpired.”
Gigaba spoke on the testimony presented by Dames last year, in which he was implicated.
Among issues raised was Dames’ resignation from Eskom.
“Let me say at the outset, so there is no uncertainty about my position, that when Brian resigned from his position at Eskom, it was a loss to the company.” Gigaba said that he still has the “highest regard” for Dames.
“Brian submitted two resignations to the board. When he initially wanted to leave Eskom, I convinced him to stay on. I was not in favour of Brian’s exit from Eskom because of his capability, integrity and strong leadership which brought stability, and instilled confidence among Eskom’s stakeholders” said Gigaba.
“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,” said Gigaba.
He recalled there being tensions between Dames and some board members. Gigaba said he made and effort to call former chair Zola Tsotsi to tell him “Brian is not going anywhere.”
Gigaba said that Dames tendered his second resignation in 2013 when it appeard tensions between him and Tsotsi could not be resolved. “At that stage, the board accepted his resignation and I urged them to focus on transitional arrangements.
“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.”
Gigaba also spoke on issues with the Eskom board, which Dames brought up in his testimony.
Gigaba said he was of the view required a rotation, some members had been serving for as long as nine years.
Further to Dames’ testimony about a meeting arranged by Gigaba's adviser Ssiyabonga Mahlangu with the Gupta brothers, Gigaba said he knew nothing about the 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.
“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.Brian Dames: Gigaba adviser lured me to meet Guptas
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba will appear before the Eskom inquiry on Tuesday as it slowly draws to a close.
Gigaba is expected to give evidence on matters relating to his tenure as minister of public enterprises between 2009 and 2014.
Gigaba was supposed to appear before the committee on public enterprises last week Tuesday, but had requested more time to prepare, to which the committee agreed.
Gigaba has also been caught up in settling matters related to the naturalisation of the Guptas.
During the sitting the committee also expressed the need to wrap up the inquiry urgently to report to Parliament. It was even suggested that the remaining witnesses be heard on the same day.
This includes former SAA board chair Dudu Myeni and the Gupta brothers Ajay and Atul and their associates.
On Monday however, Eskom inquiry chair Zukiswa Rantho confirmed to Fin24 that she received a letter via the inquiry's committee secretary from the Guptas' lawyers, to say their clients will not appear because they are not in the country.
Rantho said Myeni also sent a letter indicating she would not appear due to ill health. Myeni has dodged the inquiry a few times before.
Rantho explained that Myeni was unable to fly from Johannesburg to Cape Town as this could risk her health.
Myeni previously apologised for not appearing before the inquiry in February by SMS, saying that her lawyer had to familiarise him/herself with the matter.
This month Myeni made written submissions to the inquiry, but these are not acceptable as the committee should be able to question Myeni, Rantho said when she discussed the matter with committee members last week.
At the time Rantho said that she is still waiting for Myeni to send through the doctor’s certificate. Member of the committee and DA MP Natasha Mazzone said ina statement that Myeni still has not presented a doctor’s note.
The DA will request that Myeni and the Guptas be summonsed to appear.
Myeni was implicated in the testimony of former Eskom chair Zola Tsotsi. According to his testimony Tsotsi said he met with Myeni in March 2015, at her request, at the Durban presidential residence.
According to Tsotsi, she discussed with him the suspension of Eskom’s then chief executive Tshediso Matona and executives Dan Marokane and Matshela Koko.
Myeni denies this event in her written submission, ACDP MP Steven Swart said last week.
When asked if the inquiry would wrap up on Tuesday, Rantho said that she hopes so. She added that the committee has to table a report before Parliament soon.
The inquiry is expected to start at 09:30.