Eskom’s interim group chief executive Sean Maritz on Thursday “acknowledged the oversight” in hiring his friend on a R100 000-per-month contract without following proper procedure, but rejected that this was irregular.
This comes after weekend media reports that Maritz had previously received a written warning because he did not declare that the lucrative contract was given to a friend and fellow church member in 2010.
Maritz, a chief information officer and group executive for information technology at Eskom, was last week appointed interim group chief executive of the troubled power utility replacing Johnny Dladla in a rotational basis of the executive role.
In a statement on Thursday, Maritz acknowledged the oversight, but rejected accusations that the awarding of the contract was irregular. He said the awarding of the contract was adjudicated upon by a panel as per Eskom’s internal processes.
Maritz said that his six months’ written warning in relation to the conflict of interest expired in 2010, and had thus been duly expunged. He also asked for space and time to focus on executing his duties.
Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe confirmed this, saying Maritz had defended himself by saying that he had no intention of duping the Eskom board.
“Essentially, he admits that it was a mistake on his part not to declare his relationship with his friend when he hired him. But he says that it was not done wilfully on his part because there was a panel dealing with awarding of the contract. He thought that since he was not the one dealing with [awarding of the contract] directly, he did not need to declare his friendship,” Phasiwe said.
“Action was taken already and he was given a six months written notice sentence and was warned that any repeat of the misconduct would result in stronger disciplinary action taken against him. According to corporate governance rules, he has served his sentence and seven years later it has expired. So the case has been expunged and cannot be used against him.”
In the same statement, Maritz also refuted claims that he had deleted some information from the server which had evidence implicating Gupta companies in controversial deals with Eskom and also linking suspended executive Matshela Koko to transactions with the Guptas, Trillian Capital Partners and Tegeta Exploration and Resources.
Meanwhile, Eskom said that it had noted the statements made by consultancy firm McKinsey in relation to paying back the fees paid to it in 2016.
Last week, Eskom said it sought Gupta-linked firm Trillian and McKinsey’s “cooperation” in returning the R564 million and R1 billion, respectively, paid to them “unlawfully” in 2016 and 2017.
The power utility said that its lawyers are handling the matter, and will in due course advise on the way forward.