Deputy Public Enterprises Minister Ben Martins has rubbished claims by power utility Eskom’s suspended head of legal, Suzanne Daniels, that he had attended a meeting with Ajay Gupta, Duduzane Zuma and Salim Essa in Johannesburg in Melrose Arch this year.
“As the head of Eskom’s legal department, Ms Daniels should account to Parliament for what happened under her watch rather than seek to use the occasion to reinvent herself as clueless ignoramus,” Martins said in a statement on Thursday.
Martins said he only met Daniels along with Minister Lynne Brown, public enterprises director-general Richard Seleke and former Eskom chairman Ben Ngubane in Cape Town and Pretoria to discuss “the Brian Molefe matter”.
“She falsely claimed that I had attended a tea party in Johannesburg with her, Mr Ajay Gupta, Mr Salim Essa and Mr Duduzane Zuma,” Martins said.
“I admit to admonishing Ms Daniels for the governance lapses that had taken place under her watch as the Company Secretary and Legal Adviser at Eskom during the meetings we had with the Minister of Public Enterprises and Dr Ngubane. My collegial constructive criticism was never meant as a personal attack.”
Parliament’s inquiry into state capture allegations at Eskom heard explosive testimony from Daniels on Tuesday.
Daniels said Salim Essa had invited her to a meeting. When she arrived at Melrose Arch, Gupta, Zuma and Martins were in the room. She said at one stage, the discussion turned to the court case in which the R30 million pension payout to former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe is being challenged and Gupta, who was barefoot and dressed in grey track pants, asked “how far they are”.
She replied that no date had been set and because more parties were joining the court proceedings there needed to be discussions with the deputy judge president’s office.
“He [Gupta] said he will then have to talk to someone in the DJP’s office and make sure the hearing takes place after December 2017,” Daniels testified.
Martins is expected to hold a media briefing later on Thursday morning.
Read the minister’s full statement below:
Deputy Minister Ben Martins' statement. pic.twitter.com/R24tp6TDbI
— Scapegoat (@AndiMakinana) November 9, 2017