Brown extends Eskom deadline, demands more info

Johannesburg - Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has extended the 48-hour deadline given to Eskom on Tuesday.

She has asked the state utility to provide more information regarding payments and business relations related to the Gupta-linked Trillian firm.

Brown's extension comes after the Eskom board convened a meeting on Tuesday to resolve issues around both the Trillian and McKinsey controversies that have been dogging the state utility for months, and compile a report to Brown. But the minister was not satisfied with the information provided. 

She has given Eskom until the end of business on Friday to provide her with satisfactory answers.

The minister's spokesperson Colin Cruywagen said the minister has asked the board to furnish her with particular documents relating to Eskom's business dealings with Trillian. She will then turn to specialised legal counsel for advice. 

"The minister will seek an urgent opinion on the report from a senior council advocate on the contents of the report and advise on particular actions," Cruywagen said. Brown would then report back to South African.

On Tuesday Brown had given Eskom 48 hours to clarify its business dealings with Trillian, after asking the board in June for a report. 

"Following further revelations of impropriety on Monday she has instructed the board to table its report in 48 hours," Cruywagen said on Tuesday.

She told journalists on Thursday she had no idea that Eskom was lying about the Trillian payments.

The minister's ultimatum was triggered by Eskom head of legal Suzanne Daniels' admission on Monday that the power utility had lied about receiving the all clear from global consultancy Oliver Wyman over payments to the Gupta-linked Trillian firm.

The consultancy pressured Eskom to come clean after it initially claimed that a R1.6bn payment to Trillian and McKinsey was above board.

The Eskom board would consider all matters pertaining to McKinsey and other topical issues in a scheduled meeting on Tuesday afternoon, and promised harsh action

“The main objective of the meeting is to find a lasting solution to stem the negative coverage in order to begin a journey to curve out a path towards brand restoration,” explained Zethembe Khoza on Tuesday, Eskom's acting chair.

He stated that his board was not going to tolerate any proven wrongdoing, by whoever might be involved.

Daniels said on Monday appropriate steps would be taken against anyone responsible for the misleading Oliver Wyman statement in question, but added that what those steps would be could not be divulged at this point. Eskom didn’t want to elaborate on who put out the false statement.

But the board meeting failed to deliver the harsh action that Khoza promised, and said further investigations would follow.

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