Sikonathi Mantshantsha Deputy editor: Financial Mail

First published in August 2017.

Malusi Gigaba. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Malusi Gigaba. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

On June 23, the day public enterprises minister Lynne Brown appointed the current board of Eskom, law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr and audit outfit Nkonki finalised their forensic investigation into former acting Eskom CEO Matshela Koko. Handing the report over to Eskom’s newest board, the investigators recommended that Koko face multiple charges, including conflict of interest for failing to report his stepdaughter’s shareholding in a company that provided services to the division he headed when it "won" contracts, and of contravening procurement processes.

Koko was one of two repugnant executives left from the Zola Tsotsi/Ben Ngubane era. The other was Anoj Singh, who has been suspended for equally serious stuff. They both enjoyed the hospitality of the Gupta family in Dubai after awarding contracts worth billions to Gupta-controlled companies.

Of course, we can’t forget who gifted us all these shady characters: finance minister Malusi Gigaba. When he became public enterprises minister, Gigaba appointed Tsotsi as Eskom chair. Later, Brown appointed Ngubane nonexecutive director, to "serve" with Tsotsi. Gigaba also appointed Brian Molefe as CEO of Transnet, and Singh as chief financial officer.

Now you know who to thank for the corruption at Eskom and Transnet. All these stooges were appointed by the stooge-in-chief who now handles the nation’s treasures.

In acting out their foolish deeds, they have been joined by those appointed by Brown in June. They all seem to have one purpose: to cover up as much corruption as they can.

For two months now, the charge sheet against Koko has been ready. But it’s being passed from hand to hand

Within six months of replacing Molefe as acting Eskom CEO, Koko had rushed to give the Gupta-owned Optimum Coal a 90% discount on a R2.1bn penalty Eskom had levied, even though it had earlier refused to negotiate with Glencore.

The Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr/Nkonki report on Koko found that more than R400m of Eskom’s money was directed to Impulse International by Koko’s division — much of it even before the company had been appointed as a supplier. Never mind producing such crucial documents as tax and BEE certificates.

Koko’s stepdaughter, Koketso Choma, owned 25% of the shares in Impulse; this later rose to 35% once the relationship was outed in the media, and the shareholding was transferred to a trust for the benefit of Choma.

The reluctant minister

Reluctantly, Brown asked Koko in May to take leave while his conduct was being investigated.

Of course, there never seems to have been any intention on the part of either Brown or the Eskom board to investigate anything.

It was Brown who stopped Ngubane in March when he wanted to suspend Koko after receiving an anonymous but detailed letter requiring an investigation into allegations of corruption on Koko’s part. As Ngubane was about to serve Koko with the suspension letter, Brown called and stopped him, after she herself had received an instruction to do so — perhaps from the real bosses at the Saxonwold Shebeen. By May, pressure from the media had become so unbearable that Brown had to ask Koko to stay at home.

For exactly two months now, the charge sheet has been ready. But it’s being passed from hand to hand, with new chairman Zethembe Khoza and his board seemingly doing their damnedest to ensure Koko doesn’t face the music.

It’s crucial for Khoza to ensure that no charges stick on Koko. Who knows what Koko will say about Khoza once he’s cornered? The thing is, there is never any honour among thieves.

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