Scopa chair slams Eskom board as it again fails to pitch for meeting

Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter. Picture: Moneyweb

Although Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter was available, the meeting was postponed to next Wednesday.

The meeting related to an investigation into Eskom chief operation officer (COO) Jan Oberholzer was postponed to next week after the power utility’s board failed to appear before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) on Wednesday morning.

The committee was also going to be briefed on the lifestyle audits of Eskom officials during 2018/2019.

Although Eskom chief executive officer (CEO) Andre de Ruyter was available, the meeting was postponed to next Wednesday, 2 September.

Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa slammed the Eskom board for not showing up to the meeting as this isn’t the first time they failed to do so.

In February, the power utility’s board failed to appear before the committee to update parliament on its turnaround strategy.

“You can’t come to parliament and we bail you out, then, when you have to account, you show us the middle finger. So, as far as I’m concerned, that board is not fit and proper,” said Hlengwa back then.

During the virtual meeting, Hlengwa said the only communication the committee received from Eskom board chairperson was a text message on Wednesday morning.

However, two members of the Eskom board showed up to 10 minutes into the meeting and said that they received the wrong link, suggesting to the committee that the meeting continues.

But Hlengwa argued that Scopa requested the whole Eskom board to be present instead of two members.

He said the committee would approach Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan on the matter and adjourned the meeting.

READ MORE: Sack ‘Gordhan’s lackey’ Eskom COO Oberholzer at once – EFF

Meanwhile, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said it will be opening a criminal case against Oberholzer and will approach the court for an order to compel the power utility to act against the COO.

The EFF, who have continued their efforts calling for the removal of Oberholzer, have noted the release of the investigation by advocate Nazeer Cassiem on the allegations of impropriety against the COO, where the report, according to the party, concludes that Oberholzer “must be disciplined for a complete disregard of Eskom policies”.

“On the allegations that Oberholzer actively promoted the interest of Aveng, a company that has conducted business with Eskom, and which is now litigating against the power utility, by instructing a subordinate to pay the company an amount of R42-million,” the party said.

The party maintained that the report found Oberholzer did not excuse himself from deliberations that concerned Stefannuti Stocks, a company he allegedly had shares in.

Stefannuti Stocks is one of the companies accused of benefiting more than R4-billion in over-payments during the construction of Kusile power station.

This comes after a statement issued by Eskom where the utility said a senior counsel cleared Oberholzer of corruption, dishonesty and abuse of power.

In April, Eskom said the senior counsel found no basis to allegations for dishonesty, corruption, conflict of interest and abuse of power levelled against Oberholzer with regard to allegations of a conflict of interest regarding Stefanutti Stocks.

The South African Federation of Trade Union (Sadtu) has also called for Oberholzer to step down following reports that he was the shareholder to the company that allegedly defrauded the power utility.

Additional reporting from Gopolang Moloko

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