Brown: Eskom’s lies an assault on democratic system of governance

Minister Lynne Brown says she was misled last year when answering a parliamentary question about payments Eskom made to Trillian.

FILE: Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown. Picture: Gaye Davis/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown says she regards Eskom’s lies as an assault on the democratic system of governance and wants to know who is responsible.

Brown was addressing the parliamentary committee on Wednesday about her department's annual report - but placed emphasis on some of the serious issues that have emerged at Eskom, particularly about its dealings with Gupta-linked Trillian Capital.

The minister claims she was misled last year when answering a parliamentary question about payments Eskom made to Trillian. The utility only admitted in July that it had, in fact, paid the company.

Brown asked Eskom to explain its dealings with Trillian a few months ago and then gave the parastatal until 1 October to submit a report.

Eyewitness News has seen the report that implicates several Eskom executives, including now suspended CFO Anoj Singh.

Brown claims she only received the 'final' report on Tuesday, 3 October.

“I’m beside myself with irritation that it’s taken so long to try and get them to understand that what I'm looking for is why and who lied to me and the public.”

It's understood the minister's questions were answered and submitted to her after she had asked for clarity.

At the same time, Brown has called for a special meeting next month, saying all disciplinary processes must be finalised by then, and a permanent Eskom board must be appointed.

She also says her department doesn't have the capacity to investigate all the allegations that have emerged about Eskom.

Brown told the parliamentary portfolio committee that she's called for a “deep dive” investigation into the state-owned entity after the Auditor General revealed that Eskom’s irregular expenditure has ballooned to R4 billion for the 2016/2017 financial year.

“I think the SIU will be able to do a deep dive that looks at every single one of reports that we’ve had, that they look into the Trillians, the Tegetas and all of that.”

UNDECIDED

Brown says she has not yet decided whether to take action against Eskom officials who lied to her about irregular payments made to Trillian.

Speaking to journalists at Parliament on Wednesday, Brown said a report received Tuesday night from the Eskom board, would dictate her next steps.

The minister is under investigation by Parliament’s ethics committee for misleading the House on matters related to Eskom’s dealings with consultancy firms McKinsey and Trillian.

The Public Protector is also investigating her conduct.

“I did not lie to Parliament with the intention to lie to Parliament.”

But Brown is yet to determine who provided the false information.

“Within the company, we need to know who those officials were, and when we know that, we will have to take action against those officials.”

Brown says she will be referring the report received from the Eskom board on the Trillian and McKinsey matter, to her legal department for advice.