Ben Ngubane: Treasury wasting taxpayers' money

Eskom board chairperson Ben Ngubane told Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts that further delays in signing new contracts could again plunge the country into darkness.

FILE: Eskom board chairperson Ben Ngubane. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

CAPE TOWN – Eskom board chairperson Ben Ngubane has slammed Treasury saying it has cost taxpayers more than half a billion rand in savings, while it probes the power utility's coal contracts.

Eskom and the Treasury have been embroiled in an ongoing spat over claims that the power utility has been uncooperative in supplying documents to support a Treasury review of its controversial coal contracts.

On Tuesday, Ngubane told Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) that further delays in signing new contracts could again plunge the country into darkness.

Treasury says it only caught sight of Eskom’s 2016 PricewaterhouseCoopers report this year, and that the power utility commissioned the audits in 2015, knowing that Treasury had already begun doing the same.

The Treasury’s Solly Tshitangano said: “Overtly if we were able to calculate it, I would say it is a fruitless and wasteful expenditure that we must recover from Eskom.”

But Ngubane said it’s Treasury wasting taxpayers’ money.

“Business implications of implementing the National Treasury directives on Eskom and electricity, we have lost R513.25 million in negotiated savings. They were lost to Kusile because of National Treasury.”

The Standing Committee will now be compiling a report to Parliament on its recommendations of the issues of non-compliance.

TEGETA DEAL

Both Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe and Ngubane insist the Guptas's Tegeta mine has not received any preferential treatment from the power utility.

This despite Treasury and private audits pointing out that the company was awarded a coal contract at a time when the mine was not even fully operational.

Tegeta was awarded the 10-year R4 billion contract in 2015 without meeting a host of Eskom’s supply chain management regulations.

Molefe said the company is taking responsibility for flouting procurement processes.

The Tegeta deal was negotiated over two years and not a rushed deal as suggested by the PwC report.

Molefe said the contract was temporarily suspended last year when issues of coal quality were raised.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)