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Eskom’s Jabu Mabuza to continue testifying at Zondo commission

Deputy chief justice Ray Zondo chairs the first day of the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture held in Johannesburg, South Africa, 20 August 2018. The official proclamation of the commission in the Government Gazette is that the commission is to inquire, investigate and make recommendations into any and all allegations of state capture, corruption and fraud in the public sector with note to the Gupta brothers, former president Jacob Zuma and his son, Duduzane Zuma. EPA-EFE/KIM LUDBROOK

Eskom board chairperson Jabu Mabuza is expected to continue testifying at the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture led by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Monday.

Mabuza told the commission on Friday, that when he took office at the state-owned entity in January 2018, he found that it was the “main theatre where corruption and state capture was taking place”.

Mabuza testified about a Treasury report, which recommended remedial action to rid the power utility of impropriety, and said the current board had not yet seen it.

Evidence leader, advocate Vincent Maleka, SC, asked: “Why would a report such as this not be tabled before a board whose mandate was to clean up allegations of impropriety, at least with the Tegeta set of contracts?”

He was referring to Tegeta Exploration and Resources, formerly owned by the Gupta family, which is at the centre of state capture allegations. Tegeta, which started to experience operational challenges, made headlines after it received a 2016 contract, which involved a R600m pre-payment, for the supply of coal to Eskom.

Mabuza responded: “I first learnt of the report in November 2018. It has not yet been tabled to the board.

“I would argue that there is a new board since this report was served on a previous board that was in office at the time. It is that board that would have received this report.”

The 2017 report was compiled as part of a probe into coal supplier contracts with the power utility with specific reference to Tegeta.

The Economic Freedom Fighters meanwhile said it wants Mabuza to step down following disclosures he made during his testimony.

The EFF on Saturday said Mabuza disclosed a “serious conflict of interest” during his testimony that should have disqualified him from his position at the power utility.

Mabuza told the commission on Friday that he had bought 6% of shares in Sphere Investment worth R26m.

He said that upon accepting the position of board chairperson in January 2018 he declared all his interests and resigned from future investment decisions at Sphere. The shares had also been put in a blind trust.

The use of a blind trust however was not good enough for EFF national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.

“Mabuza told the commission that he is an executive chair of a company that maintains a third of Eskom’s boilers,” EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said in a statement on Saturday.

Ndlozi was referring to Sphere’s shares in Babcock and Honeywell.

“The use of blind trusts by high profile executives in state-owned companies, including political office, is nothing but a web of dishonesty and deception used to hide the conflict of interest and dealings taking place to enrich the few, at the expense of South Africans,” Ndlozi claimed.

Mabuza’s chief of staff Lwanda Zingitwa on Sunday told News24 that, in his testimony on Friday, Mabuza talked to his relationship with Sphere holdings and his resignation upon appointment at Eskom.

Mabuza explained the reasons for that resignation and wished to add nothing more to that detail.

“Leading up to my appointment as chairman of Eskom and currently as chairman I have never made or approved of any decision that was in my personal interests at the expense of Eskom’s or the public’s interest,” he reiterated. DM

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