Koko denies Impulse deal non-compliant, points finger at Ngubane

Johannesburg – While suspended Eskom executive Matshela Koko has denied wrongdoing in the appointment of engineering and project management group Impulse International, a new report reveals that he signed off on the deal himself.

On Thursday Business Day reported that Koko had signed off on a R66m deal between Eskom and Impulse International in late 2015.

His stepdaughter Koketso Choma became a director of the multinational engineering and project management consultancy firm in 2016.  

He told Business Day that he would only testify under oath, at his disciplinary hearing on the matter as Business Day was not "the presiding officer". 

Disciplinary hearing 

On Wednesday Koko's disciplinary hearing at Eskom kicked off. It relates to his alleged failure to declare a conflict of interest regarding R1bn worth of contracts awarded to Impulse International.

In his plea submitted as part of the disciplinary process, Koko denies six charges made against him by Eskom.

Among these were that he knew or should have known that Impulse International was appointed without relevant procurement policies and procedures, and that the firm was paid without complying with the relevant policies and procedures.

“Mr Koko had no knowledge that could have led him to believe that anything untoward had occurred in relation to Eskom’s contracting with Impulse International,” the plea read.

Further, Koko said that it was not "reasonably possible' for him to investigate, enquire or appoint an Eskom employee to investigate the matter.

The plea instead points the finger at former Eskom Board chairperson Baldwin Ngubane.

“If further investigation on behalf of Eskom was called for in any sense, it was for Dr Ngubane, in his capacity as Mr Koko’s manager in terms of Eskom’s Conflict of Interest Policy and its Declaration of Interest Procedure, to deal with the issue,” reads Koko's plea. 

During day one of the hearing on Wednesday, Koko argued that he acted according to his duty and obligations as acting group CEO of the power utility. He said he always acted in "what he regarded as the best interests of Eskom in relation to the matters at issue".

Four of the charges specifically relate to Impulse International, while the remaining two accuse Koko of improperly interfering in the Kusile power station project. On February 1, 2017 Koko allegedly instructed Project Director Frans Sithole to remove consultancy Arup Tata’s project manager Gobal Kambi, the company GTC and an Eskom senior manager from the project, without giving a proper reason. 

Koko also allegedly undermined the decisions of the Kusile tender committee for a cable contract.

While this week's disciplinary hearing focuses on his conflict of interest regarding his stepdaughter, Koko is also implicated in the #GuptaLeak emails, where it is alleged that he used his position at Eskom to help the Guptas buy Optimum Coal Holdings and its Optimum and Koornfontein coal mines from Glencore.

Koko was appointed as interim CEO of Eskom in December, after Brian Molefe's tearful resignation. He had been an Eskom executive since 2014 and in October 2015 he became the executive in charge of generation, which included oversight of coal contracts.

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