The chairman of parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) has told the Mail & Guardian he believes that the leaking of an affidavit submitted by Eskom group chief executive André de Ruyter, meant for the committee, was a “malicious” act.
“This leak took us aback because it is malicious,” said Mkhuleko Hlengwa.
It was “reckless and irresponsible” to leak the affidavit to the media, and could be seen as an attempt to derail the committee’s investigation, which was postponed last week.
News24, which has the affidavit, has reported that De Ruyter “hit back at allegations of racism and abuse of power … in an explosive 53-page affidavit forwarded to parliament this week”.
Hlengwa said he was sure the affidavit had not been leaked by Scopa members, because he had not yet shared the document with the committee. He said he had read the affidavit.
Two Scopa members confirmed that they had not received the affidavit and did not know when they would get a copy.
Hlengwa said the people who had to “explain” the leak were from “the department of public enterprises or Eskom”.
Scopa would not be making the affidavit public, he said.
“The affidavit was a submission which was a response to the allegations made against [De Ruyter] for the purposes of the investigation we were to conduct, which we have temporarily suspended while Eskom completes its process. We are not in a position now to release it, because that would be preempting what he may or may not say at the inquiry.”
The affidavit formed part of Scopa’s record, said Hlengwa, and at the end of Eskom’s investigation, the committee would “look at all of the submissions that have been made, including but not limited to his affidavit”.
Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said: “The affidavit has been sent to parliament and will be dealt with by parliament when they resume their process. Whoever has it has obtained a leak from their sources.”
Scopa announced on Wednesday last week that it had decided to temporarily halt its inquiry into the allegations made about De Ruyter by the suspended chief procurement officer, Solly Tshitangano, to let Eskom conduct its own investigation.
Hlengwa said that Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan had written to Scopa to ask it to temporarily halt its investigation.
“To have run a parallel process with the same interests would be a duplication and a waste of taxpayers’ money. And at the end of their process when we have received everything we will make a determination as to whether we are satisfied that everything has been done. In our view, the Eskom investigation forms part of our investigation,” said Hlengwa.
He said Eskom would have 90 days from inception to complete its internal inquiry, which began in early March.