Brown blames Eskom after misleading Parliament over Trillian

The minister is accusing Eskom officials of deliberately misleading her.

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

JOHANNESBURG - Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown says she didn’t intentionally mislead Parliament by failing to disclose business dealings between Gupta-linked Trillian and Eskom, pinning the blame on senior officials at the power utility.

Brown released a statement on Friday morning after advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane found that she violated the executive ethics code when she appeared before members of Parliament (MPs) last year.

The minister is accusing Eskom officials of deliberately misleading her.

“According to the information I received from Eskom in response to the questions filed by the chief financial officer on behalf of the chief executive officer, no payments were made. I relayed this information to Parliament, but it emerged that Eskom had indeed made payments to Trillian.”

Brown claims she received information from Eskom, signed off by the chief financial officer on behalf of the chief executive officer, and it said that no payments were made to Trillian by the power utility.

The minister says all she did was relay this information to MPs.

She insists she immediately informed Parliament's Ethics Committee and the Public Protector of the false information when she became aware that she was lied to.

Suspended head of legal at Eskom Suzanne Daniels says she believes Brown.

“I would love to see what the Public Protector says in her report because it may have been inadvertent. But on what basis does she find her guilty when it’s clear she was lied to?”

Opposition parties have called for President Cyril Ramaphosa to fire Brown.

The Democratic Alliance’s Natasha Mazzone says she would be disappointed if he didn't because it would prove that the ANC endorses corruption.

"At the very core of his speech (State of the Nation Address) he discussed dealing with corruption and stopping state capture, firing Lynne Brown will show he is serious about dealing with this."

The DA says the claim that Brown "inadvertently" mislead Parliament is simply not good enough.

Mazzone says Brown cannot spin her way out of this.

“You have to exercise extreme care and duty when dealing with these entities. We’re talking about a massive amount of money here, the transaction that went through to Trillian. For the minister to claim that she didn’t fact check is simply not good enough. The buck has to stop with someone and it stops with the minister.”

Congress of the People has also called for the minister’s head.

Mkhwebane has given Ramaphosa 14 days to take action against Brown.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)