Collin Matjila. Picture: MARTIN RHODES
Collin Matjila. Picture: MARTIN RHODES

More light was shed on Wednesday into the alleged role of former interim Eskom CEO Collin Matjila in opening the procurement doors of the utility to Gupta-aligned companies.

The revelations were made by former Eskom finance director Tsholofelo Molefe during the inquiry into the state capture of state-owned enterprises, being held by Parliament’s public enterprises committee.

Matjila was at the helm of Eskom for about six months, filling in between the departure of former group CEO Brian Dames in March 2014 and the arrival of the new group CEO Tshediso Matona in October 2014. During that time, he broke Eskom’s procurement rules to conclude contracts with Gupta-owned or aligned companies.

Molefe told the inquiry that she resisted Matjila’s efforts to procure from Gupta-aligned companies and was eventually suspended in March 2015, along with former CEO Tshediso Matona, executive for group capital Dan Marokane and head of generation Matshela Koko. Only Koko, who has once again been suspended because of allegedly suspect contracts, was eventually taken back by Eskom in 2015.

On Tuesday, former Eskom group executive for enterprise development Erica Johnson described Matjila’s role in unilaterally concluding a three year, R43m contract with Gupta-owned newspaper The New Age, to host monthly business breakfasts at R1.2m per event.

Molefe recounted how Matjila tried to get a contract with Gupta-aligned Regiments Capital for it to assist with the utility’s financial sustainability plans.

Regiments Capital claimed it could save Eskom R10bn through the monetisation of its coal contracts, for which it wanted a fee of about R500m.

Matjila introduced Gupta-associate Salim Essa as well as Regiments Capital CEO Eric Wood to Molefe.

Molefe resisted concluding a contract with Regiments Capital without following proper procurement procedures. Matjila reprimanded her and insisted that the situation was an emergency and that he would sign the contract if Molefe were not comfortable with it.

Eventually the board did not authorise the contract but agreed to pay Regiments R800,000 for a high-level desktop exercise to test its proposals. Molefe said most of Regiments’ proposals were not viable or were already being implemented.

She agreed with a statement by parliamentary legal adviser Ntuthuzelo Vanara — who is leading evidence at the inquiry — that there was an "absolute disregard" by then Eskom chairperson Zola Tsotsi and Matjila of the laws governing procurement processes.

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