Lynne Brown intervened to stop Matshela Koko from being suspended
Former public enterprises minister Lynne Brown allegedly intervened to prevent the suspension of Matshela Koko, formerly head of generation at Eskom, who has been implicated in allegations of state capture at the utility.
The Eskom board had decided to suspend Koko in March 2017, the parliamentary inquiry into state capture heard on Wednesday.
However, this decision was revoked after the "sudden intervention" by Brown, the suspended head of group capital Abram Masango told members of the public enterprises committee, which is conducting the inquiry.
Masango also reported that in 2015, Koko had summoned him to a meeting at Melrose Arch with Gupta associate Salim Essa. At this meeting Masango was told that four Eskom executives — including Koko — would be suspended but that Koko would be the only executive who would resume his employment.
This is what happened, with former CEO Tshediso Matona, head of group capital Dan Marokane and chief financial officer Tsholofelo Molefe all being suspended. They did not resume their employment.
Masango told MPs that "there was no reason why the minister should have intervened to protect Mr Koko, particularly given the serious allegations against him".
Masango was suspended in November on allegations of "serious misconduct" related to undeclared conflict of interest and "generally corrupt conduct". He has strongly denied the "vague and unsubstantiated" allegations.
"I have no doubt that the reason for my suspension was an attempt to silence me, discredit me and undermine my credibility as a potential witness at Mr Koko’s disciplinary hearing," Masango said in his submission.
He said his suspension came in the wake of his raising concerns about the "sham" disciplinary proceedings against Koko.
Masango was responsible for a whistleblower’s report related to maladministration and corruption at Eskom, which included mismanagement and abuse of power by Koko.
He said submitting this report had sealed his fate and lead to "my credibility and integrity [being] challenged, my employment jeopardised and my safety and security compromised".
Like many commentators Masango believed the disciplinary inquiry into Koko was a "sham" as it had a predetermined outcome. The inquiry exonerated Koko of a conflict of interest in relation to the contracts amounting to about R1bn awarded to Impulse International, of which his step-daughter was a director.
"I believe that the proceedings were marked by irregular interference by Mr Zethembe Khoza, the acting chairman, which culminated in the charges against Mr Koko being amended and reduced from 10 charges to six watered down charges," Masango said.
Witnesses who should have been called to give evidence were not called. "Mr Koko took every possible step to manipulate the proceedings, threaten witnesses and divert attention by employing tactics to create a ruse," Masango said.