Panel vows ‘no escape’ for state capture accused
Top guns at Eskom and members of the Gupta family may be forced to face committee
Members of the portfolio committee on public enterprises say there will be no place to hide for Eskom officials, the Gupta family or Duduzane Zuma when the committee begins its inquiry into the embattled power utility.
Committee acting chairwoman Zukiswa Rantho told Business Day on Monday she would not rule out the possibility of inviting the top guns at Eskom and members of the Gupta family to appear in Parliament to answer questions.
The committee is scheduled to hold its preparatory meeting on Tuesday to start an inquiry into the affairs of Eskom, which has been caught in a web of scandal over dealings with the Gupta-owned Tegeta Exploration and Resources, as well as a conflict of interest investigation involving former acting CEO Matshela Koko.
The South African Council of Churches and the State Capacity Research Project are set to get things started at the committee.
The parliamentary inquiry is part of a broader series of inquiries by the National Assembly into state capture announced by chairman of committees Cedric Frolick. The committee’s inquiry is due to start in August but Rantho said it had emerged during preparations that the committee may have had inadequate information to start the process and may also have been misled.
The committee is preparing a list of witnesses to testify as part of the inquiry.
Rantho said it was highly likely that Eskom finance chief Anoj Singh and members of the Gupta family would be summoned to answer tough questions about state capture.
"There is a lot of information lacking. We don’t know how much the tenders that were given [to the Guptas] were for and who they were really given to. Who is the overall person and who is the subcontractor. If [money] ... disappeared, for example, we need to know what happened with it," she said.
The preparatory meeting comes after Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane wrote to the DA to notify the party that she would investigate plans to give former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe a R30m pension payout.
DA MP Natasha Mazzone, who serves on the public enterprises committee, said there would be no place to hide for Singh, Molefe or the Guptas once the inquiry began, as all of them were listed as witnesses.
"Quite frankly, the committee took a decision at the last meeting before the [parliamentary] recess that the Guptas and Anoj Singh — and it is on record — that they will be called, whether or not the chair wants them there," said Mazzone.
President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane Zuma, would also be called to account to the committee, she said.
Due to a separation of powers and the specific scope of the inquiry, Eskom’s Labour Court proceedings and the public protector investigation could not render the content of the parliamentary inquiry sub judice, Mazzone said.