Tsotsi decision favoured Guptas: report

2015-04-19 10:05
Former Eskom chairperson Zola Tsotsi.

Former Eskom chairperson Zola Tsotsi.

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Newspapers scrutinise Eskom suspensions and inquiry

2015-03-13 10:58

Eskom chairperson Zola Tsotsi has announced that CEO Tshediso Matona has been suspended as well as three senior executives. Today's newspapers investigate.WATCH

Johannesburg - Several decisions made by former Eskom board chair Zola Tsotsi bent the rules of the power operator, including influencing a decision to award a contract worth an estimated R400 million-a-year to a coal mine owned by the Gupta family, The Sunday Times reported.

According to the report, Tsotsi, who resigned from Eskom at the end of March, leaned on Eskom executives to approve a coal contract signed in March with the Gupta family's Brakfontain mine in Mpumalanga, even though the mine does not have a full water license.

Coal began flowing from the mine to Eskom this week.

Tsotsi also reportedly:

- Exceeded his powers by personally writing an acknowledgement of debt to a Japanese transformer maker company that is expected to cost Eskom R300m

- Wrote to Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson in February to ask her to approve the use by Eskom of new power sources, which was seen as meddling in executive actions, a senior Eskom executive told the newspaper

Tsotsi had not responded to e-mails and SMSes sent to him by the newspaper over several weeks.

Gupta family spokesperson Gary Naidoo told the newspaper that the Gupta companies had only begun supplying coal to the power utility a few days ago.

He said they had been engaging with Eskom for over three years to negotiate a contract, which only came to fruition a few months ago. 

He denied that the coal mines did not meet Eskom requirements.

This week Eskom announced that the load shedding stage allocation would be altered, with South Africans possibly to experience stage 4 load shedding in the future.

The current stages of load shedding are stage 1, when 1 000 MW is cut from the grid; stage 2, when 2 000 MW is cut from the grid; and stage 3, when about 4 000 MW is cut from the grid.

However, Eskom has seldom told customers in its media briefings that stage 3 actually has two levels, 3a (3 000 MW) and 3b (4 000 MW).

"So we are planning to change stage 3 to up to 3 000 MW, and stage 4 will then be up to 4 000 MW," an Eskom spokesperson told Fin24 on Friday.

"The exact date has not yet been confirmed. But it will be in the near future."

The move was aimed at creating more options so that the power utility can communicate more efficiently with its stakeholders.

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown told media at Parliament on Wednesday that she had requested Eskom to improve communications with its stakeholders, and that they have formed partnerships with various media companies to improve this process.

Brown this week also appointed Transnet CEO Brian Molefe as the acting Eskom CEO with immediate effect after Tshediso Matona was suspended in March.

“What I need is a full-time chief executive who can do the job from the get-go," Brown told reporters in Johannesburg on Friday, according to Bloomberg.

Molefe has been in his role at Transnet since 2011 and was the Public Investment Corporation CEO from 2003 to 2010.

Matona was suspended when Eskom announced it would start an independent inquiry into the state utility, which has been battling with maintenance of its generators and has been implementing load shedding.

Brown also announced that Dentons had been selected to conduct the deep dive inquiry into Eskom's financial troubles.

Brown, who acknowledged on Wednesday that Eskom is spending R1bn a month on emergency diesel supplies and that this has already gobbled up the R8bn profit it announced in its interim financials at the end of last year, is expecting the deep dive report within three months.

"The replacement for ... Molefe at Transnet will be announced on Monday says ... Brown," SA Gov News tweeted.

The power utility has implemented planned power cuts every day this week, including stage 1 on Sunday morning, which was expected to run to 22:00 tonight.

Read more on:    eskom  |  zola tsotsi  |  gupta family  |  johannesburg

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