Ramaphosa given 14 days to deal with Brown

Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane has found that Lynne Brown mislead Parliament about business dealings between Gupta-linked Trillian and Eskom.

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN - President Cyril Ramaphosa now has 14 days to act against Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown after she was found guilty of violating the ethics code, with a possible Cabinet reshuffle on the cards.

Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane has found that Brown mislead Parliament about business dealings between Gupta-linked Trillian and Eskom.

The minister has accused Eskom officials of deliberately deceiving her, saying that she did not intend to mislead Parliament.

However, Ramaphosa has those 14 days to deal with the matter and put forward a plan of action.

Brown insists that she was deliberately misled by Eskom officials but this may be the end of the road for her.

Brown says when she realised she had been misled by Eskom she called for action to be taken.

“I immediately informed Parliament’s Ethics Committee and asked the then Eskom board to constitute disciplinary actions.”

However, Brian Molefe stayed on as CEO until an Inter-Ministerial Committee which Brown was part of rescinded his reinstatement, and chairperson Zethembe Khoza and CFO Anoj Singh remained in their positions for months afterwards.

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga says it may be difficult for the president to keep Brown as a minister.

“The Department of Public Enterprises has been at the forefront of this state capture. She [Brown] cannot explain this away by pleading ignorant.”

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on the president to be bold enough to fire the minister immediately.

At the same time, there are questions now as to whether the damning Public Protector’s report against Brown will push Ramaphosa to reshuffle his Cabinet in the next two weeks.

Mathekga says the president has been considering his Cabinet and this may be an opportunity to sack some controversial ministers.

Political analyst David Monyae says the Public Protector’s report isn’t the only issue that Brown is facing.

“There’s been a number of issues concerning that ministry that needs fixing.”

Even though Brown has argued that she was deceived by Eskom, the DA says this isn’t an excuse and she failed in her duty as a minister.

INVESTIGATION

Parliament’s Ethics Committee says it’s yet to start investigating claims against Brown.

Co-chair of the committee Aumsen Singh says the matter has not been dealt with at all.

“I still maintain that we did not mislead in terms of the responses to those questions.”

That’s what former Eskom chief financial officer Anoj Singh told the Eskom inquiry, exactly a month ago, when asked about the responses to the questions that landed Brown in hot water.

The DA’s Natasha Mazzone laid the complaint against Brown with the Registrar of Members’ Interests in May 2017, who confirmed receipt.

But on Friday, Parliament’s Ethics Committee said the matter has not yet been referred to it for action.

Singh told EWN the committee had not seen any correspondence in the matter, and it's unclear when the complaint will be formally handed over to it.