Parliamentary evidence leader Advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara was coolness personified as he calmly dissected former Eskom acting CEO Matshela Koko at yesterday’s Eskom parliamentary inquiry into state capture.
Koko was equally calm as he stuck to his guns in protesting his innocence.
In his formal statement to parliament, Koko stated it was when he tried to move “corrupt senior officials charged with overall responsibility for the Medupi and Kusile projects” that disciplinary hearings against him began.
“It led to information about my having declared the interests of my stepdaughter in Impulse International (Pty) Ltd in terms of Eskom’s policies and procedures being fed to the Tiso Blackstar group of newspapers by the very corrupt officials against whom I had acted,” said Koko.
“They had realised that I was coming for them, and connived with the journalists who then launched a campaign of vilification of me based on falsehoods and distortions of the truth, which is still continuing.”
Koko also accused former Eskom board chair Zola Tsotsi of trying to force a payment of “some R69 million on the basis of invoices that a Japanese company, Sumitomo Corporation, had rendered to Eskom in respect of transformers that it had allegedly manufactured for Eskom that Eskom had not taken delivery of”.
“It subsequently came to my attention that, despite the fact that no purchase order had been issued to Sumitomo to manufacture and supply the transformers, Mr [Malesela] Sekhasimbe played an active part to procure that a letter be sent by Mr Tsotsi, in his capacity as chair of Eskom’s board, to Sumitomo Corporation stating that Eskom would pay for the transformers,” Koko stated, adding the issuing letter was irregular because of the lack of a contract or purchase order among other reasons.
With regards to Eskom’s R1.6 billion payment to Trillian and McKinsey, Koko denied any knowledge of the payments.
On microblogging platform Twitter, University of Cape Town Professor and energy specialist Anton Eberhard said Koko was “providing highly misleading information on Eskom coal contracts in parliament’s #EskomInquiry as a general justification for their support to Guptas”.
Eberhard noted “unfortunately few in the committee have the technical information to push back” and suggested coal experts be called to testify.
The Organisation Against Tax Abuse’s Ben Theron said he believed that everyone had had enough of Eskom’s lies.
“So far Koko has been very brave. He has denied very specific things which were put to him and despite Vanara saying he had evidence, Koko said he didn’t believe the evidence,” said Theron.
Koko’s appearance came after the utility’s former CFO, Anoj Singh, testified before the same inquiry until early yesterday morning where, by contrast, former finance minister Pravin Gordhan tore into Singh.
“Mr Singh, is self-preservation in your case trumping conscience and ethics?” was Gordhan’s opening salvo to Singh. “In other words, you have to survive at any cost, including lying [and] misleading.”
Singh said he had taken accountability where he needed to.