Columns 28.11.2017 06:38 am

Eskom inquiry eye opener



If there is a lesson that can be taken from the Zimbabwean coup that was not a coup, it must be that despots and dictators stay in power because they have the support of those around them.

The situation in Zimbabwe went a long way in relieving some of the pressure that has been piling up on president Jacob Zuma.

For a whole week, South Africa’s attention was not on how bad things are in our own country.

We temporarily forgot that we have the same magnitude of problems to deal with as the Zimbabwean people did.

But we must return to our own reality, we must face the damage that continues to be done to our institutions.

The parliamentary committee handling the Eskom inquiry has been nothing short of riveting and phenomenal television viewing.

Parliament is doing the oversight that we have always wanted the legislative arm of government to do. Holding the executive that governs the country to account for state capture excesses that should never have been allowed to get this far in the first place.

As was the case in the parliamentary commission on the SABC, witnesses are being questioned under oath about their alleged hand in causing the looting of public funds through Eskom.

The biggest difference here is the top executives and board members that have been called to appear are not as arrogant as those from the state broadcaster.

They are helping parliament and the rest of the population to connect the dots on state capture.

Former board chairperson Zola Tsotsi has, under oath, made a direct link between the president and state capture.

He even went so far as to state that former South African Airways board chairperson Dudu Myeni had a hand in suggesting how to deal with executives who were not helpful.

The president is alleged to have asked him ifhe knew which individuals should be suspended.

In the past, the only link between the president and state capture was the allegation that his son Duduzane played the role of a fixer, setting up meetings between targeted individuals and the Guptas.

What we have now been told is what we’ve always suspected, that the president is at the centre of state capture.

If there is a lesson that can be taken from the Zimbabwean coup that was not a coup, it must be that despots and dictators stay in power because they have the support of those around them.

The Zimbabwean army targeted those keeping Mugabe in power to weaken his hold on the presidency, and they succeeded.

Similarly, the law should target those that are enabling state capture. Minister Lynne Brown is one of those people keeping the president in power.

Her evidence in front of the Eskom inquiry has been to simply deny all damning allegations against her, or simply resort to that time and tested strategy of all those evading the truth: “I can’t remember.”

The problem for her is all the other witnesses can remember and they have testified she was taking instructions about the Eskom board and executives from Saxonwold.

The inquiry looks set to up the tempo this week with subpoenas to the main characters, Duduzane and the Guptas.

Expect more denials and failure in memory on the same levels as that of Minister Brown, if they choose to appear and not frustrate the process by resorting to the usual legal delaying tactics.

The scariest aspect of the revelations about the rot at Eskom is that not a single individual has been charged in a court of law for the many illegal acts that took place there.

The NPA has chosen to turn a blind eye.

Gupta brother intimidated me, former Eskom board chair tells MPs

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