As it happened: Montana’s appearance at #EskomInquiry opens debate for Transport Inquiry

Last Updated

30 Jan 2018

The Eskom Inquiry resumes on Tuesday afternoon, with former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana presenting evidence to the portfolio committee on public enterprises.

Montana previously tweeted that Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises Ben Martins had arranged a meeting between him and Tony Gupta, and the president’s son Duduzane Zuma, while Martins was still transport minister.

Martins did not deny his claims. He previously told Parliament at a briefing on November 9 that he had met members of the Gupta family on a number of occasions and at one of these meetings, Montana had come to his government house in Pretoria to discuss transport-related matters.

He also said he received a letter from the Gupta family, requesting that Prasa chair Sfiso Buthulezi, now deputy minister of finance, and Montana be removed from their positions.

“Subsequent to that Sfiso Buthelezi remained chairperson of Prasa. And Lucky Montana remained CEO. They were not removed,” Martins said.

However, Martins has vehemently denied ever meeting suspended Eskom head of legal Suzanne Daniels, Gupta business associate Slaim Essa, Duduzane and Ajay Gupta at an apartment in Melrose Arch in July 2016.

According tothea testimony brought forward by Daniels, Ajay enquired about former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe’s court case. Molefe wanted the courts to overturn a decision by the power utility to rescind his reappointment.

Martins is expected to testify on Wednesday. Last year there was talk of having to subpoena Martins after he turned down an invitation from the committee.

However, on Monday, Rantho said it might not be necessary to subpoena Martins as a notice was issued to his department. “He is willing to come,” she said. But Rantho added that the subpoena letter is ready to be signed by the speaker of Parliament. “I don’t think it will be necessary to subpoena him,” she reiterated.

Guptas to appear before Eskom Inquiry in March - chair

30 Jan 2018

Earlier on Tuesday, Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown briefed Parliament's oversight committee on governance at state-owned companies Denel, Transnet and Eskom, among others.

Brown said that board members must perform, or they will be rotated.

“The message to the board of all SOCs (state-owned companies) is that they must shape up or ship out,” she said.  

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30 Jan 2018

Martins tried to smear Montana's name - inquiry hears

Former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana shared his disappointment in deputy minister of public enteprrises Ben Martins at the Eskom Inquiry on Tuesday.

Montana said that ben Martins had tried to protect his own name at the expense of Montana’s by creating the impression that Montana was the one who arranged a meeting between him and Rajesh (Tony) Gupta and Duduzane Zuma in September 2012.

Montana referred to Martins as a friend, whom he was introduced to through Parliament in 1996. The two of them worked on the portfolio committee of public enterprises between 1999 and 2004. Martins, who is also a poet, had taught Montana about art, he recalled.

“This is a man I have huge respect for, I could not believe at media briefing he tried to protect his own name at my expense,” said Montana. He explained he was testifying to set the record straight.

“In September 2012 I met with the honorable Ben Martins. He invited me to his ministerial house in Pretoria. I went to meet him at the time he was Minister of Transport,” said Montana. After having tea, Montana said Tony Gupta and Duduzane Zuma joined the meeting, he had never met them before.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss appointments of the Prasa board, as CEO Montana said that he did not have that authority as that lied with the minister.

Another reason given for the meeting was that the gentlemen were interested in a bidding process for trains. Montana was on his way to Berlin and said that Rajesh and Duduzane should get back to him when he returned.

30 Jan 2018

Jimmy Manyi's name dropped to be on Prasa board - Montana

Speaking at the Eskom Inquiry on Tuesday afternoon, former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana said that there was a plan to change the board of the rail company during a procurement process, after the Guptas has failed to secure a tender for China South Rail.

Montana's submission reads: "The Guptas pushed for the dissolution of the PRASA Board and my dismissal as Group CEO. They pushed the Department of Transport to appoint a new Board." 

Mzwanele (Jimmy) Manyi was proposed as chair, and two Indian gentlemen were to be included on the board.

Montana said that Prasa was not an international company and did not see the need for Indian investors to be on the board.

At the time, he approached then-chair Sfiso Buthulezi, who is now deputy minister of finance, on the matter. Montana said he was prepared to resign but would call a press briefing to expose the wrongdoing at the company.

They both met then-Minister of Transport Ben Martins at he Cape Town Station in November 2012. "He indicated that PRASA should proceed with its procurement process and that he will defend the Board. He said he will fight alongside us as his comrades and will take the matter to Cabinet for approval," Montana's submission read. 

 


30 Jan 2018

ANC officials behind 2014 Prasa board change - Montana

Former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana said that he did not only have to fight off the Guptas from trying to change the rail company’s board.

“The task of transforming the country is bigger than cleaning the Guptas, we must clean the Guptas but the problem is far deeper that we have to address,” Montana said in his closing remarks to the portfolio committee on public enterprises.

“The Guptas wanted to change the board, they were defeated,” he said. He explained that the 2012 rolling stock bid was one if the biggest on the world and everyone wanted a piece, including international players.

He said that black business representatives “promised all sorts of things”. Montana said that he did not allow fronting and that Prasa wanted the best trains for the country. “Our Pretoria trains among best world… These trains will serve country for next 40 years. It was the best investment for the country.”

Montana said that even people he trusted, particularly former Transport Minister Dipuo Peters pushed for Prasa to cancel its procurement programme in 2014. Montan said that he refused as this decision would collapse Metrorail.

“In those discussions she had said would change the board.” According to Montana, peters had shared intentions to bring Popo Molefe on as chair, “and the rest is history,” he said.

He also pointed out that former ANC Treasurer-General Zweli Mkhize was behind the new Prasa board appointments. “The 1 August 2014 board was determined by Peters and Mkhize,” said Montana. He said only eight board members were nominated by the public but three were not.

Montana went on to explain how he was under attack from all sides, even having to defend himself with a firearm, which Prasa later wanted to repossess from him.

He spoke of how a former apartheid security officer followed him home, and this escalated into a car chase. “This was not done by the Guptas, it was done by my own comrades.”

30 Jan 2018

Montana opens up about TNA Business Breakfast deal

Former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana said that the rail company saw an opportunity to promote its work through sponsoring the TNA Business Breakfasts.

He explained that Prasa approached Nazeem Howa, who was still at the New Age at the time to negotiate a R3m contract.

However, upon hearing the details of what the contract entailed, Montana learnt that the airtime Prasa would get was limited.

He approached then-Transport Minister Ben Martins to intervene. A meeting was arranged between Martins, Howa and Montana to renegotiate the deal. “We went without Nazeem Howa getting what he wanted,” said Montana.

However, he told his team to cancel the sponsorship of the TNA Business Breakfast and from the next day onward The New Age (papers) were no longer brought to Prasa offices. “That is the long and short of it,” said Montana. 

30 Jan 2018

'Not everything we did after 1994 is bad' - Montana 

Former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana told the portfolio committee on public enterprises that he is not testifying at the Eskom Inquiry to “settle scores” and that he prayed before coming to the inquiry. 

“I had clear objectives of this, to assist the committee to do its work,” he said. As the committee performs a “clean-up” of state-owned enterprises (SOE), it should also acknowledge the major successes of SOEs.

“Let us build on successes as we clean.” Montana said that he had work with Ben Martins on the Eskom Convention Bill, at the time it was not a company, it was a commission.

The main objective behind turning Eskom into a company was to create a balance sheet for it to approach the markets and raise capital. Eskom has been able to raise over R300bn through its capital programme, said Montana, attributing this to the work of government between 1995 and 2009.  

“I think it is important to look at the work of Eskom, not only the side of stealing resources, but build on the successes as it were,” he said. “Not everything we have done since 1994 was bad.”

He added that what has happened with the Guptas shows how things can go “horribly wrong”. “Each one of us must look in the mirror. Are we honest with ourselves? Are we building a future for our children and grandchildren?”

Montana said that if anyone has a problem with his testimony, they can come to inquiry to make contestations, but he has the documents and witnesses to support his testimony. 

<p><strong>'Not everything we did after 1994 is bad' - Montana&nbsp;</strong></p><p>Former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana told the portfolio committee on
public enterprises that he is not testifying at the Eskom Inquiry to “settle
scores” and that he prayed before coming to the inquiry.&nbsp;</p><p>“I had clear objectives of this, to assist the committee to
do its work,” he said. As the committee performs a “clean-up” of state-owned
enterprises (SOE), it should also acknowledge the major successes of SOEs. </p><p>“Let
us build on successes as we clean.”

Montana said that he had work with Ben Martins on the Eskom
Convention Bill, at the time it was not a company, it was a commission. </p><p>The
main objective behind turning Eskom into a company was to create a balance sheet
for it to approach the markets and raise capital.

Eskom has been able to raise over R300bn through its capital
programme, said Montana, attributing this to the work of government between 1995
and 2009.

&nbsp;
</p><p>“I think it is important to look at the work of Eskom, not
only the side of stealing resources, but build on the successes as it were,” he
said. “Not everything we have done since 1994 was bad.”
</p><p>He added that what has happened with the Guptas shows how
things can go “horribly wrong”.

“Each one of us must look in the mirror. Are we honest with
ourselves? Are we building a future for our children and grandchildren?”
</p><p>Montana said that if anyone has a problem with his
testimony, they can come to inquiry to make contestations, but he has the
documents and witnesses to support his testimony.&nbsp;</p><p><strong></strong></p>

30 Jan 2018

'If South Africa burns, I burn with it’ - Montana

Former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana told members of the portfolio committee on public enterprises he does not have foreign bank accounts or passports and that he has no intention to leave South Africa.

“I have never had bank accounts outside of the republic,” said Montana. He added that his family is in South Africa and he does not have passports of any other country.

“The South Africa of my own dreams is a country that is peaceful, with livable cities… There is no other country I dream of.”

He said that he had no desire to work for people with passports from India or Dubai. “If South Africa burns, I burn with it.” He said that after leaving Prasa he loved South Africa even more. “I love it here. I am not going anywhere.”

30 Jan 2018

Earlier on Tuesday, Eskom released its interim results in an effort to comply with the JSE's debt-listing requirements. 

According to new interim CEO Phakamani Hadebe, Eskom's poor leadership sparked the crisis that led to its financial woes.

Eskom announced its results for the six months to end-September on Tuesday.

This showed the power utility's going concern status is indeed in question at the end of the cycle. Eskom's interim revenue declined by 2% to R95.5bn. Its after-tax profit plunged by 34% to R6.3bn from R9.5bn in the previous comparable period.

Hadebe said Eskom ended up with financial problems and a liquidity issue because of poor leadership, adding that the power utility faced considerable financial challenges in the last six months.

Concerning liquidity, Eskom reached the point where funders felt they could no longer engage with the company, Hadebe said.

Poor leadership drove Eskom to brink - new interim CEO

30 Jan 2018

Montana offers his expertise to save SA's metro rail

Former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana says he is willing to assist the transport department in fixing the metro rail system in South Africa.

“SA lost railway skills in the 1980s.” He said the metro rail system would not last long, and this needs to be addressed and that he would have to consult his family about becoming involved first. 

“I will be willing to use what this country has given to me, without incentives.”

30 Jan 2018

Montana offers his expertise to save SA's metro rail

Former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana says he is willing to assist the transport department in fixing the metro rail system in South Africa.

“SA lost railway skills in the 1980s.” He said the metro rail system would not last long, and this needs to be addressed and that he would have to consult his family about becoming involved first. 

“I will be willing to use what this country has given to me, without incentives.”

30 Jan 2018

Montana’s appearance at #EskomInquiry opens debate for Transport Inquiry

Former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana’s testimony at the Eskom Inquiry has opened up the debate about whether the portfolio committee on transport should hold its own inquiry.

Montana told the portfolio committee on public enterprises on Tuesday that he wanted to bring forward his testimony to help it do its work.

He was appearing to give his version of events after Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises Ben Martins suggested at a press briefing in November 2017, that he was the one who arranged a meeting between Martins, Tony Gupta and Duduzane Zuma.

“This is a man I have huge respect for, I could not believe at media briefing he tried to protect his own name at my expense,” said Montana. He explained he was testifying to set the record straight.

“In September 2012 I met with the honorable Ben Martins. He invited me to his ministerial house in Pretoria. I went to meet him at the time he was Minister of Transport,” said Montana. After having tea, Montana said Tony Gupta and Duduzane Zuma joined the meeting, he had never met them before.

It was revealed that the gentlemen were interested in a bidding process run by Prasa in 2012.

According to Montana, after the Gupta’s failed to secure a tender for China South Rail, the Guptas tried to dissolve the board, and have Mzwanele (Jimmy) Manyi on the board instead.

They did not succeed in this attempt. “The Guptas wanted to change the board, they were defeated,” he said.

Montana explained that several others had tried to influence procurement at the rail company, including black business representatives and international companies.

Former Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters and former ANC Treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize were behind the Prasa board of 2014, where Popo Molefe was appointed chair, he said.

Montana explained that Peters wanted Prasa to cancel or delay the procurement process at the time. Montana refused as that would have collapsed Metrorail, he said.

Montana emphasised that the procurement was necessary and that the trains were a necessary investment for the country.

He also said he suffered attacks on his life, on one occasion an old apartheid security officer had followed him to his home, it escalated into a car chase and he had to defend himself with a firearm, which Prasa later tried to repossess from him.

EFF MP Floyd Shivambu who is also a member of the committee said that Montana raised issues in his testimony which would warrant a similar inquiry by the portfolio committee of transport.

During his testimony Montana said he was “emotionally invested” in the matter as he was involved in the restructuring of SOES, including Eskom and Transnet. He said that as the committee performs a “clean-up” of state-owned enterprises (SOE), it should also acknowledge the major successes of SOEs. “Let us build on successes as we clean.”  

The inquiry resumes on Wednesday with Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises Ben Martins presenting evidence.

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