Former Eskom chairperson Zola Tsotsi has levelled more damning accusations against Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown, Tony Gupta and their close associate Salim Essa.
“There is a clear association between Minister Brown and the Gupta family,” he said.
Tsotsi told Parliament’s Eskom Inquiry on Wednesday that Brown invited him to her house after a new Eskom board had been appointed in December 2014.
“Tony Gupta and Salim Essa were present,” he said.
The matter was about the allocation of board members to different subcommittees. “Salim Essa would draw up his idea of board allocations and send it to the minister,” he said.
Asked by Democratic Alliance MP Natasha Mazzone if Brown was taking instruction by Essa, he said: “I would not say she took instructions from them, but it seemed to me that I was not able to complete this exercise without the involvement of Mr Essa.
“I got a list and I changed the list on the basis of what I thought it should be. I sent it to the minister to get her concurrence. She changed it back to what it was when she originally sent it.
“My hands were tied.”
Asked by Mazonne why the Guptas had that power over him, he replied: “When I had the occasion to discuss something with him, and when I was not able to give it to him, he turned around and he said he must report me to Baba (President Jacob Zuma).
“The impression he gave me was that he had a very close relationship with Baba and that he could do anything. I think that was the source of his power.”
Asked what the Guptas asked for, he said they asked for three things that they directly wanted from me. “In all of them I was not able to assist them,” he said.
One of them was around the New Age deal, while the second was to do with leadership changes at Eskom.
In the third request, Tsotsi said the Guptas were interested supplying gas to OCGTs (Open Cycle Gas Turbine) to have access to the Western Cape market with them as the anchor tenant. He said he would like me to assist them to facilitate that.”
There was a memorandum of understanding with a company in place, so Tsotsti said this could not occur. “He then complained that we were dealing with Baba’s enemy,” said Tsotsi.
Tsotsi earlier told the inquiry that he was approached by Tony Gupta who requested that they meet.
“At the meeting, Tony told me ‘chairperson, you are not helping us with anything. We are the ones who put you in the position you are in. We are the ones who can take you out!’
“My response was ‘Do what you have to do, and let me carry on with the job that the Cabinet appointed me to do!’ So ended that meeting.”
Before Tsotsi met with Tony Gupta, he said Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown had called him to a meeting.
“At this meeting, she stated as follows: ‘chairman, I have received complaints from management and board members that you are interfering in management. Please refrain from doing so, because if you don’t, I shall have to find someone else to do your job!’
“My response was, ‘minister, most board members hardly know what I look like, let alone not having worked with me yet. As for management, if scrutinising their decisions and behaviour and calling them to account constitutes interference with management, then I will happily continue doing so. If you had acceded to my request that we have regular briefing sessions, even this meeting would not have been necessary’.
“Where upon the minister responded by saying, ‘chairperson, you go and do what you have to do, I will go and do what I have to, there is no reason for you and I to talk about anything.’ That is how the meeting ended. “It is at this time that I felt that some sinister clouds are gathering because the coincidence of the two events was not lost on me.” —Fin24