Zola Tsotsi suspects ‘clear collusion’ between Brown & Guptas

Tsotsi told MPs about 'astonishing' and 'sinister' events that led to the suspension of several senior executives at Eskom in March 2015.

FILE: Former Eskom's chairperson Zola Tsotsi. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Former Eskom board chairperson Zola Tsotsi has told lawmakers he suspects "clear collusion" between Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown and the Gupta brothers.

Testifying at a parliamentary inquiry into state capture, Tsotsi has told Members of Parliament about what he calls “astonishing” and “sinister” events that led to the suspension of several senior executives at Eskom in March 2015.

He has claimed former South African Airways board chairperson Dudu Myeni proposed the suspensions during a meeting with President Jacob Zuma and that Minister Brown supported the decision during an Eskom board meeting a few days later.

Tsotsi says Brown supported the suspension of four Eskom executives and didn't question the wisdom of the decision.

“To the best of our recollection, she was not fazed at all by the idea of both having the inquiry and suspending executives.”

Tsotsi also claims that Gupta associate Salim Essa, whom he met at the minister's home, had tried to meddle in the board's affairs.

“Salim Essa would draw up his idea of the board allocation, send it to me and ask me to pass it onto the minister.”

MEETING AT ZUMA'S HOME

Tsotsi claims Myeni called him to a meeting at Zuma's home where he was told to suspend three executives and launch an inquiry into the power utility's woes.

He says the day he met Myeni at the president's Durban home, she was accompanied by her son and lawyer Nick Lennell.

Tsotsi told Parliament's Public Enterprises portfolio committee that he was worried the suspensions would cause instability at the parastatal.

He says when Zuma walked into the room, Myeni explained what they had been talking about and Zuma understood what was going to happen.

“He was asking questions about clarity and at the end of the meeting when he said he will speak to the minister about it, it was then clear that he understood what was going on.”

The suspended executives were never charged with any wrongdoing. All but one decided to leave the parastatal.

INTIMIDATION

MPs have also been told that Tony Gupta used President Zuma's name to intimidate Tsotsi.

Tsotsi says Gupta suggested his job was at risk because he was not helping the Indian family at Eskom.

When asked by Democratic Alliance MP Natasha Mazzone why he let Gupta speak to him in that way, Tsotsi says Gupta appeared to be close to the president.

“When I had the occasion to discuss something with him, he wanted something specific from me and when I was not able to give it to him, he then turned around and said he must report me to 'Baba' because I’m working with Baba’s enemies. Those are the words that he used.”

Tsotsi says Gupta wanted his help to get into the gas market in the Western Cape.

Previously at the inquiry, Eskom's suspended head of legal Suzanne Daniels told parliamentarians that Essa knew beforehand that four executives would be suspended.

The board's surprise decision to suspend Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona and three other officials was followed by a downgrade of the parastatal's credit rating.

WATCH: Inquiry into Eskom