Parliament’s portfolio committee on public enterprises on Wednesday resolved to devote August to an in-depth probe of the circumstances surrounding Brian Molefe’s re-appointment to the helm of Eskom, including allegations of the Gupta family’s hold on the power utility.
“The committee agrees that his re-appointment made us think of governance in the entity and therefore we would want to know what made them think even of the re-appointment of Brian Molefe and that R30-million is good to give,” the acting chairperson of the committee Zukiswa Rantho said.
The terms of reference for the inquiry also extend to the ability of the Eskom board to discharge its duties and Eskom’s response to former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s damning findings in her “State of Capture” report released last year.
Molefe quit under a cloud after she highlighted regular contact between him and the Gupta family, and Eskom’s apparent zeal to give coal contracts to their exploration business, Tegeta.
The committee cried foul last month about the controversial bid to reimpose him at Eskom, which was later rescinded at the orders of a ministerial committee. Molefe is fighting that decision in the labour court.
MPs insisted that the inquiry, which is due to begin on August 1, should look into the role of Ben Ngubane, who quit as chairman of the Eskom board days after Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown instructed him to let Molefe go.
Ngubane had defended both the re-appointment and an earlier attempt to give Molefe a R30-million pension pay-out.
“We are going to have a conversation with him, he cannot decide not to come and talk to us,” ANC MP Mondli Gugubele said after the meeting.
The Democratic Alliance’s Natasha Mazzone won support from other parties for calling, if needed, the Gupta brothers and President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane, who is a business associate of the family.
The committee also agreed to demand the minutes of the meetings at which Eskom’s coal deal with Tegeta was forged, as well as the full, orginal copies of the Dentons and PwC’s investigations into Eskom contracts.