BLF apologises unreservedly for lifting Brown's letter to Eskom inquiry

Cape Town - The Black First Land First movement on Monday apologised “unreservedly” to Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown for submitting a letter to the Eskom inquiry which was lifted from a letter than Brown’s office had itself previously submitted. 

“It has come to the attention of our movement that the questions which appear in our letter to the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises and the speaker are lifted from the letter of the Department of Public Enterprises,” said BLF in a statement on Monday afternoon.

“BLF took the questions from a WhatsApp group and at the time didn't know they where from the DPE. BLF apologises unreservedly to Minister Lynne Brown for any embarrassment this oversight may have caused her and the department.”

The letters submitted by BLF and the public enterprises minister were both sent to Parliament’s oversight committee on public enterprises, which last week kicked off its first-ever inquiry into state capture at power utility Eskom. 

Brown’s spokesperson Colin Cruywagen said Brown had sent two letters to the inquiry, on August 8 and October 16, seeking “clarity on matters including the Terms of Reference and the nature of the enquiry”. 

“The Minister made it clear that she will comply with the Parliamentary process and cooperate fully with the PC (Parliamentary Committee),” he said. 

The BLF then sent a letter which was largely the same as one of Brown’s letters on October 19, three days after Brown sent her second letter. 

“If the press is not biased it will show that our letter came days after the letter of the minister,” said BLF leader Andile Mngxitama in a WhatsApp to Fin24. “Clearly someone circulated the ministers letter and we found the questions compelling and in line with our thinking,” he said. 

Full responsibility

In its statement the BLF said sending the letter was an oversight. 

“BLF takes full responsibility for the oversight. We should have acknowledged that the questions were lifted from other sources even if we didn't know who they were,” it said.  

The two letters were not exactly the same.

The BLF’s letter contained three paragraphs at the bottom which were not in Brown’s original letter. 

These included a threat to interdict the committee from continuing with its investigation – which it called a “witch hunt”. 

On October 20, when the committee briefly dealt with the latter, the EFF’s Flloyd Shivambu had first noted its similarities with the letter sent from Brown’s office. 

At the time, the committee’s acting chairperson Zukiswa Rantho said she “received a letter from the Black First, Land First movement”.

“The content of the letter is asking the committee to stop the inquiry as of yesterday (October 19) at 13:00. If not, we will be taken to court.

“This letter is intimidating us to not go forward,” she said at the time. “It has names of people they have mentioned in this letter. Also, they are saying the nature of the current inquiry is not clear.”

The BLF, meanwhile, stated on Monday that it had instructed its lawyers to interdict the committee and parliament. “We want a full probe into state capture, not a selective process to protect the corruption of white monopoly capital,” it said. 

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