Lynne Brown tells Eskom to release coal report now

(Gianluigi Guercia, AFP)
(Gianluigi Guercia, AFP)

Johannesburg - Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown said on Tuesday she had asked power utility Eskom to immediately provide a report required by the Treasury, which is investigating the utility's coal contracts.

Reuters reports Brown said she was concerned a public row between the Treasury and Eskom could lead to the utility being downgraded by credit rating agencies.

"I don't want to see credit rating agencies downgrade Eskom because of a spat in the media," Brown said in an interview on Talk Radio 702.

The Treasury on Monday accused Eskom executives of blocking the probe, but Eskom said it was cooperating in the investigations.

"Treasury and myself should meet to resolve this matter," she said, adding she was waiting for the outcome of the investigation to find out about any payments by Eskom to Tegeta.

Eskom said on Monday it was "shocked and perplexed" after Treasury said it has failed to honour its undertaking to submit comments to Treasury’s review of Eskom's coal contracts.

"National Treasury started an investigation into Eskom contracts with Tegeta in July 2015," Eskom said in a statement on Monday. "Eskom wants to reiterate that it has been cooperating with National Treasury. Since then ... Eskom has been responding to National Treasury requests."

READ: Eskom hits back at Treasury over coal deals

Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier said on Monday that he would request Eskom CEO Brian Molefe to report to the standing committee on finance after Treasury said Eskom had chosen to ignore correspondence and put all forms of hindrances to prevent the review from occurring.

He accused Molefe of protecting Tegeta’s owners, the Guptas, who revealed this weekend that they are selling their shares in the business.

Maynier revealed last week that Tegeta had threatened Treasury with legal action over releasing its draft report into its coal contracts with Eskom to Maynier.

Treasury said on Monday that it was surprised by media reports of Tegeta “warning” and threatening to interdict the department should it release a report into its investigation of Eskom’s coal contracts.

READ: Gloves off as Treasury takes swipe at Eskom

In legal letters to Treasury seen by Fin24, Tegeta said the coal report was still in a draft format. “Any disclosure thereof will severely prejudice our client …,” Tegeta’s lawyer said on July 13.

The draft report – which the Sunday Times leaked this weekend – reveals that Eskom paid over R130m to Tegeta for coal it could not use.

“The report … shows that Eskom signed a coal supply deal with Tegeta Exploration and Resources for a commodity they both knew was out of specification,” the Sunday Times explained. “The 10-year contract is worth R400m a year.”

READ: Eskom denies wasting R134m on 'useless' coal

Read Fin24's top stories trending on Twitter:

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