Matshela Koko. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Matshela Koko. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

Suspended Eskom head of generation Matshela Koko has a relationship with the truth that does not seem to be “very close”, Eskom’s reputational manager Khulani Qoma said in Parliament on Tuesday.

Qoma, who is also a spokesperson for the Eskom board, said he was shocked when the board, with the endorsement of Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown, appointed Koko as interim group CEO at a time when the power utility’s reputation had taken a knock.

Qoma told the inquiry into state capture by Parliament’s public enterprises committee that Koko was very compromised and had been flagged in the media as having no ethics. He believed it was totally out of place for Brown to have approved Koko’s appointment.

Qoma said he had questioned his own role as reputation manager when the board recommended — and the minister endorsed — a person with such a terrible past. Qoma said reputations of companies and individuals were achieved by making correct and rational decisions.

Qoma was questioned about an interview on Carte Blanche with Koko in which Koko denied any knowledge of a prepayment for coal paid by Eskom to Gupta-owned Tegeta Exploration and Resources. This was despite Koko and head of procurement Edwin Mabelane having submitted a request for this prepayment to the board tender committee a few months before the television interview took place.

It was at this point that Qoma said Koko’s denial on television had confirmed what was already known: that Koko’s relationship with the truth did not seem to be very close.

Qoma was also questioned about the blacklisting of journalist Chris Yelland from all Eskom media releases and Twitter feeds, among others. This blacklisting had been instituted by former CEO Brian Molefe and supported by Koko. It was only after the intervention of Qoma with Eskom chairperson Ben Ngubane that the blacklisting was lifted.

Qoma said the return of Molefe to Eskom after his initial departure was totally devastating for Eskom’s reputation and the confidence the public had in the parastatal.