Guptas strong-arm Eskom to back illegal mine

2014-07-06 11:34
Atul Gupta (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Atul Gupta (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

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Cape Town - The politically connected Gupta family is allegedly putting pressure on Eskom chairperson Zola Tsotsi to approve a R500m Idwala Coal contract – despite management opposing the move.

According to the Sunday Times, this comes after a confidential report signed by three senior Eskom officials states that Idwala’s “illegal” mining has made the deal too risky for Eskom. 

Idwala Coal Crypts, which is co-owned by the Guptas, is an illegal mine in a wetland in Mpumalanga, and continues to break environmental laws despite being ordered to clean up its act last year.

The newspaper reports that Atul Gupta has put pressure on Tsotsi to get the deal approved. A source familiar with the issue said the Guptas had informally raised concerns with cabinet ministers about Eskom’s failure to sign the deal.

The issue of the rogue mining operation, which is also linked to Duduzane Zuma, President Jacob Zuma’s son, came to light late last year when it emerged that Idwala had been operating illegally for the past three years and that national government simply turned a blind eye.

At the time, it was reported that Idwala had not only illegally diverted a public road but also a river. It had also been mining without a water license, destroyed a wetland and allegedly owed subcontractors millions of rands.

In documents sent to the department of environmental affairs Idwala admitted to breaking the law. They had applied for “rectification” - a request to continue mining despite breaking the law.

Questions however once again surfaced over the Guptas' abilities to blatantly flout the law - especially as this revelation came only a few days after three senior South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members appeared in court on charges relating to the landing of a private aircraft at the Waterkloof Air Force Base.

The jet was carrying Gupta-wedding guests from India.

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