Editorial: Eskom is still lying to us

Eskom's executives are being as shadowy as they can. We should not allow it. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Eskom's executives are being as shadowy as they can. We should not allow it. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

The lasting damage done by state capture is seldom so well illustrated.

On Wednesday journalists treated the chairperson, chief executive and chief financial officer of Eskom like naughty children. You say Eskom is not in financial distress? Very good! Now, everyone look into the camera and say those precise words. Nicely done! Now, can you say: “I’m not corrupt”? One at a time.
No, it doesn’t matter who starts. Everyone will get a turn.

It was cringeworthy stuff, entirely unworthy of the public release of annual results of one of the most important corporate entities on the continent.

It was also inevitable. Eskom, as an entity, and its executives as individuals, have lied to the nation time and again, in ludicrously transparent fashion. Eskom never paid advisory firm Trillian a cent – except for the R450-million it forgot to mention when it said that. Fired chief executive Brian Molefe didn’t use the words “I resign”. Suspended executive Matshela Koko “made a mistake” when he said there had been no prepayment to the Guptas, when his signature was on a document saying otherwise. Chief financial officer Anoj Singh can’t yet explain why he seems to have lived it up in Dubai on the tab of the Guptas – but he’s busy writing an explanation, hang in there.

The excuses are awfully familiar to anyone who has ever been confronted with a child covered in chocolate who indignantly denies eating it – just without being at all cute.

Eskom has done nothing yet to regain the trust of the nation. It was again evasive, playing with words, telling improbable tales. And so it must be treated in a humiliating fashion, every word doubted, every statement checked. We cannot stop Eskom from pulling the wool over our eyes again – but we can gather the evidence that will help to hold individuals to account after the fact.

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