Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Kwazi Dlamini

The parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) is still seeking answers on the matter of tackling corruption at Eskom. This comes after presidential security advisor Sydney Mufamadi failed to provide the committee with information it requires regarding the ongoing investigation against senior ANC politicians implicated in former CEO Andre de Ruyter’s much-maligned intelligence report.

Summoned to appear before Scopa right after the explosive interview aired, De Ruyter declined to divulge the names of cabinet members who, he claimed in his controversial ENCA interview, are involved in corruption at Eskom. The committee wanted clarity on the allegations he made so that their veracity can be tested, but the former CEO became coy about naming the senior political figures he alleges are involved in Eskom corruption – to the committee’s intense frustration.

Shortly after his departure from Eskom, De Ruyter released a book titled Truth to Power, in which he made further revelations, about his tenure at the state-owned enterprise. De Ruyter mentioned the existence of the intelligence report proving that senior ANC politicians are involved in Eskom corruption, claiming to have revealed this in a meeting between him, public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan, and Mufamadi.

De Ruyter also said that after he made these revelations to the duo, Gordhan exclaimed to Mufamadi that he supposed it was “inevitable that this would emerge”. During his own appearance before Scopa in May 2023, Mufamadi confirmed that the meeting took place and informed the committee that he could not recall what was said or the words that were said after they heard names of the implicated parties.

The security advisor added that Gordhan invited him to advise on the way forward, depending on the findings of De Ruyter’s intelligence report. The committee asked Mufamadi whether the intelligence report was shared with him and whether he knows the names of the senior politicians implicated – his response was that he did not get a copy of the report nor did he request one because his job was only to advise. He added that he is aware of the senior politicians implicated in the report but he would prefer to not share them on that platform i.e. the parliamentary committee.

Gordhan too was evasive on that particular question, when he appeared before Scopa on 17 May 2023. Without tangible evidence that will withstand judicial scrutiny, there is no point speculating who these politicians may be, he said. “We all have our suspicions but without solid proof, they will remain just that.” Gordhan emphasised that he would not implicate or smear the reputations of others without credible evidence and verifiable facts being provided.

Bringing in law enforcement

During his appearance, Mufamadi was asked on what advice he gave in the afore-mentioned meeting. He replied that he advised both Gordhan and De Ruyter to take the findings to law enforcement agencies, adding that Police Commissioner Fannie Masemola confirmed that De Ruyter had spoken to him, but did not follow up as it was not his duty to do so.

Committee members told Mufamadi that they were not happy with the progress of the investigation – in fact they believe that the South African Police Service is not showing much appetite to investigate a matter of this magnitude. In response, Mufamadi advised the committee to seek an update from the parliamentary committee on police.

The committee asked Mufamadi if he was made aware that a private firm conducted the investigation for the intelligence and whether he did not find it problematic that a matter of national security was conducted by a private entity. Mufamadi said he was not aware because De Ruyter said “we” have conducted a report so he assumed he meant together with the board.

Relentless push for answers

Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa proposed that Parliament’s legal advisors request De Ruyter in writing to furnish the intelligence report because without it there will be gaps in the committee’s knowledge of the situation. Hlengwa also requested committee members to provide a list of individuals they think should be brought before it as part of the hearings into Eskom.

Tackling Eskom corruption will require more than just one determined parliamentary committee, though. Minister of Electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa recently conceded that an organised crime syndicate has infiltrated the power utility’s procurement division and he has been working closely with law enforcement to tackle the problem.

Meanwhile, a City Power contractor was recently arrested for tampering with a switching substation in the Roodepoort area, the suspect faces several charges including tampering with essential infrastructure, vandalism and acts of sabotage. The police are also looking to arrest an Eskom executive with a top-secret security clearance who is believed to be key in engineering and staging breakdowns at Eskom power stations.