Brown faces renewed calls to dissolve Eskom board

The DA urged Lynne Brown to suspend the Eskom board with immediate effect and the EFF said her department should be disbanded

FILE: Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown is facing renewed calls to dissolve the Eskom board with immediate effect, while the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is demanding that her entire department be dissolved.

Members of Parliament (MPs) have torn into Brown during her budget vote in Parliament.

Earlier on Thursday, she announced she was launching her own investigation into allegations of state capture and other wrongdoing at the power utility.

The investigation will involve the Special Investigative Unit reviewing seven reports into wrongdoing at Eskom since 2007 and further investigations, including into controversial coal contracts.

Brown also wants a retired judge to consider the SIU's findings and recommend action.

Minister Brown has come under sustained attack in parliament during a debate in which the allegations of state capture and corruption swirling around the state-owned entities she oversees featured prominently.

The Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Natasha Mazzone urged her to suspend the Eskom board with immediate effect.

“South Africa is not for sale; our state-owned entities cannot and shall not be bought by the Gupta family and certainly not with the help of number one.”

The EFF's Thembinkosi Rawula told Brown her department itself should be disbanded.

“There was never any doubt around Brian Molefe’s resignation and it was beyond reasonable doubt, clear as the day – the minister must not come here and try to mislead Parliament.”

Brown’s planned inquiry did little to staunch opposition outrage.

The Inkatha Freedom Party’s Narend Singh said, “Too little, too late. Money has been looted, and continues to be looted, under your watch.”

The National Freedom Party’s Maliyakhe Shelembe said Brown’s "lack of leadership to oppose the reappointment of Mr Molefe as the CEO of Eskom is an example of just how ill-advised she is...”

Brown hit back.

“The majority of the people in this country are black and the economy is in the hands of a small group of people – and this is what they are scared of, that we might today radically transform this economy.

And so they say – in one family’s hands. I will not allow it in one family’s hands – and the ANC will not allow it.”

Meanwhile, the Minister insists she did not lie to Parliament.

Brown has been in the spotlight after she backed a controversial decision by the Eskom board to reinstate Brian Molefe as the utility's CEO.

In an amaBhungane exclusive on Eyewitness News last week, details emerged of how Brown misled Parliament in December by denying any working relationship between Eskom and Gupta-linked company Trillian Capital, when at that stage Trillian had already invoiced Eskom for R266 million.

She was asked to respond to accusations from her own party, the African National Congress, that she had perjured herself.

“I don’t think I’ve lied to Parliament; I’ve said that yesterday as well and I’m not lying to Parliament. I have an affidavit to court that I shouldn’t be lying. So, I haven’t lied and I don’t know what more you want.”

Brown told reporters she was a loyal ANC member and submitted to the wisdom of its leadership.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)