Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba’s scheduled appearance before the parliamentary inquiry into Eskom will not go ahead as planned this week as he has now twice queried what he is expected to testify about.
Gigaba was expected to account for corporate governance failures, appointment of board members and executives, procurement irregularities and contracts that were given to Gupta-related companies at Eskom during his tenure as public enterprises minister.
But on Friday he wrote to the oversight committee asking for more time to prepare for his appearance at the inquiry and asking for “specificity” on the matters he would be expected to account for.
The inquiry wrote to Gigaba on February 22 inviting him to account for his role in corporate governance matters at Eskom during his time as the minister of public enterprises.
He wrote back last week asking for areas of focus and the committee gave him “broadly defined topics” last Wednesday, including corporate governance, appointment of board members and executives, procurement irregularities and contracts that were given to the Gupta-related companies during his tenure as the minister, as well as allegations of undue influence.
“I was the minister of public enterprises between November 2010 and May 2014. Consequently, while I am committed to accounting to Parliament, I would appreciate, where possible, further specificity relating to the alleged failures of corporate governance for which I am expected to account,” he wrote.
He also wants clarity on board member appointments that will form the subject of the inquiry and on the alleged Gupta-related contracts entered into in the period under review.
Gigaba wants to know from the committee whether the allegations of undue influence pertain to undue influence visited upon, or by, himself and details of the alleged undue influences.
“The requests are aimed at allowing me to prepare properly and comprehensively on relevant topics rather than expending resources on issues that might not be of any interest.
“I further request a reasonable extension of time for my appearance before the committee because the list of topics on which I am expected to account is onerous.
“I require time to peruse the documentation relevant to the aspects mentioned by the inquiry with the team,” he wrote.
Gigaba also pointed out that the majority of the relevant documentation was in the possession of the public enterprises department and that it was being collated.
Inquiry chairperson Zukiswa Rantho (ANC) told City Press that Gigaba’s letter was received only on Friday afternoon and the majority of MPs were no longer in Cape Town.
She decided to distribute the letter to other MPs in the committee and also inform them that Gigaba would not be able to appear on Tuesday, based on all the reasons he stated in his letter.
Rantho said the committee understood that Gigaba was dealing with another parliamentary process which involved the naturalisation of the Guptas and in which he is accused of bending over backwards to ensure the Gupta family was irregularly granted citizenship.
“I think it is going to be fair for us if we need real information to let him do this thing of the naturalisation and get rid of it and then we will be able to force him to give us attention,” said Rantho.
In his testimony in October, former Eskom CEO Brian Dames claimed that Gigaba’s Eskom board brought poor governance to the power utility.
He also claimed the minister’s adviser had lured him to a meeting with the Guptas.
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