WRAP | Zondo's Covid-19 exposure halts Brian Molefe's evidence at state capture inquiry

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15 January 14:33

The commission adjourns for the day.

15 January 14:22

Zondo: I am sorry that we can't continue, but it's one of the things that we can't control.

15 January 14:19

The sitting resumes. Zondo informs the house that  the proceedings  cannot continue due to the fact that he has received news that somebody who works very close to him has tested positive for Covid 19. He says he will need to isolate. 

15 January 13:10

The commission adjourns for lunch. Proceedings to resume at 14:10

15 January 13:02

Zondo draws Molefe to the evidence of Mcebisi Jonas, where he spoke about a meeting that took place at the Gupta home. The meeting was attended by Duduzane Zuma, Fana Hlongwane and one of the Gupta brothers.

During the meeting, one Gupta brother, whose name Jonas could not remember mentioned to him that 'Brian Molefe's career was being taken care of'. 

Molefe: I can't comment on that. I can't say that my career was taken care of by the Guptas. I was responsible for my career.

15 January 12:42

About his move secondment to Eskom, he says the move was facilitated by former public entreprises minister Lynne Brown.  

Brown first asked him if he would consider going to Eskom if asked.  

15 January 12:38

Molefe says he does not know how the now defunct New Age newspaper, which was owned by the Gupta's, got the news that he was going to be appointed Transnet CEO. The newspaper broke the story in December 2010.

15 January 12:28

Molefe: I saw nothing wrong or abhorrent about going to their house.

"I saw no reason to treat them like lepers."

Brian Molefe: Nothing wrong with my visits to Gupta home

15 January 12:21

In explaining his relationship with the Guptas, Molefe starts by telling a story of the difficulty experienced by black people including black entrepreneurs in accessing capital. He says when the sale of Nedbank came up, him and a group of black business people saw the sale as a possible opportunity to establish a black-owned bank. However, the proposal  of buying Nedbank was turned down by the Reserve Bank, he says.

During that process I was alerted of an Indian family that had relocated to South Africa. The family linked me with a possible funder in India.

"They were prepared to buy into a vision of creating a bank for black people."

He estimates that he started knowing the Gupta family around 2008.

15 January 12:07

Adv Seleka asks Molefe to explain his relationship with Salim Essa and the Gupta brothers and how he knows them. He says he does not know Essa. " I don't know what he looks like." 

"The Gupta brothers, I know all three of them, especially Ajay Gupta. I have been to their house on numerous occasions and attended their family gatherings. I know them well."

He says he wouldn't say he doesn't know them as it is now fashionable to say so.

15 January 11:55

Proceedings have resumed and Advocate Pule Seleka will now lead Molefe's evidence. Following Molefe's opening statement, Judge Zondo cautions that future witnesses would be required to submit their opening statements seven-days prior to giving evidence.  He says this is meant to afford those implicated a chance to have their say.

15 January 11:45

The commission has adjourned for a 15 minute tea break.

15 January 11:31

Molefe: Ramaphosa's involvement with Glencore allowed him to be used for his political standing and he knows that.

He sys  Glencore was a multibillion company and Cyril Ramaphosa  a BEE partner of the company. Glencore arrogantly came to Eskom to say "we want to increase the price by more than triple from R150 per tonne to R530 per tonne"

15 January 11:20

Molefe: After my arrival, the team at Eskom managed to halt loadshedding.

"There was no loadshedding at Eskom for three years. Loadshedding came back after Cyril Ramaphosa was elected president after the R1 billion conference," he say referring to the ANC elective conference in Nasrec in December 2017.

15 January 11:07

Molefe: I was uncomfortable with the war room and stopped attending its meetings.

He also says he was "relieved" when former president Jacob Zuma closed it and gave Eskom a chance to save the company.

"The less said Pravin Gordhan the better," he says referring to his leadership role in stemming Eskom woes.

15 January 11:04

"When I arrived at Eskom there was a de facto board in the form of a war room that was run from the office of the deputy president.

There was a "de facto board that was outside of the company" and the management of Eskom was preoccupied with compiling status report for the war room. He says the war room was chaired by Ramaphosa making him the "de facto chairperson of the board".

"I quickly realised that the war room was not about fighting Eskom and turning Eskom around". 

15 January 10:56

Molefe points out that Glencore, the previous owners Optimum failed to conduct due diligence when buying the company. He states that the company sold shares to Cyril Ramaphosa and also made him chairman. He describes this move as Glencore's best bet. He goes on to say the profitability of Optimum was dependent on the "peddling of political influence"

15 January 10:49

Molefe is now making his opening statement, starting with some aspects of the Optimum coal contract with Eskom. 

15 January 10:41

Molefe’s legal representative, Advocate Thabani Masuku, raises a concern that he only received the documents relating to his evidence on Tuesday night, and that did not allow him enough time to prepare himself. He argues that might prejudice his evidence. Zondo responds saying; the commission won’t have any difficulty in arranging that he deals with certain matters at a later stage, if he feels that he is not prepared to provide answers.

15 January 10:34

Molefe takes the prescribed oath and swears to tell the truth.  Evidence leader Pule Seleka begins by stating that Molefe’s name has been mentioned in a lot of matters from Eskom, Transnet to Parliament but his evidence today will only focus on his work at Eskom.  Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo confirms that  he will be called back to give evidence relating to Transnet. 

15 January 09:46

Molefe joined Eskom as CEO in 2015 after four of the power utility's top executives - including its CEO and CFO, were abruptly suspended, ostensibly to allow an hastily-arranged inquiry into the company to take place without their interference.

No allegations of wrongdoing had been levelled against the four at the time, and all were cleared of wrongdoing. Only one, Matshela Koko, returned to Eskom. 

The utility's ex-chairperson, Zola Tsotsi, told the inquiry in September that he believed the Gupta family orchestrated the ouster of the four senior officials to make way for their acolytes to enter Eskom's senior leadership. 

Abrupt suspension of Eskom's financial director in 2015 rattled investors, says ex-chair

15 January 09:46

The inquiry has already heard testimony about Molefe in his role as the CEO on Transnet between 2011 and 2015.

This included evidence by his former driver that he allegedly received bags of cash from the Gupta family during his many visits to their home in Saxonwold.

Molefe at the time accused the witness of lying. 

"I hope the Zondo commission will give me a proper right to reply. I have asked to come to the commission, and they have said to me that they will let me know when I will be scheduled, in the meantime I continue to be slandered and called names," he said in August. 

Brian Molefe: Nothing wrong with my visits to Gupta home
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