Zondo concerned by abuse of power to coerce Eskom employees to sign deals

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo says authorities must create a working space where people are allowed to say no to unlawful dealings.

FILE: Deputy Chief Justice Zondo during the first public hearing on state capture allegations in Johannesburg on 20 August 2018. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo is concerned that some former executives at Eskom used their positions to force their subordinates into signing illegal and unlawful deals.

After hearing evidence from Treasury officials at the state capture commission, Zondo said authorities would need to create a working space where people are allowed to say no to unlawful dealings.

Zondo asked if the environment at Eskom allowed people to stand for what is right. “What can be put in place to ensure that if something similar happens again, they will be able to say no?”

Over the past two weeks, the commission has heard evidence of corruption and mismanagement at Eskom, mostly presented by current employees at the power utility.

Eskom officials have testified that they were forced, threatened and pressured into signing off on deals. These included the illegal pre-payment that Eskom made to Gupta-owned company Tegeta and the approval for the controversial family’s Brakfontein mine to continue supplying coal to Eskom, even though it was substandard.

Other officials also testified that they signed off on a R25 billion loan from the Chinese asset management company Huarong to Eskom, a deal that burdened Eskom instead of helping it.

They claim they did this because they were instructed by former executives, such as Matshela Koko and Brian Molefe.

Speaking on the Eusebius McKaiser Show on Monday, Koko, however, said he was the victim of the corruption at Eskom.

"Those who got involved in theft and impropriety ended up in Parliament… they knew what they were doing. I don’t trust all of the people I worked with. The majority of the people I worked with, like engineers and artisans, I trusted."

LISTEN: Koko: Eskom in big trouble but SA won't become another Venezuela

Koko believes that it is up to the state capture commission of inquiry, the police and the Special Investigating Unit to determine who should be blamed for the crisis at the state-owned company following years of corruption and maladministration.

Additional reporting by Mia Lindeque.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)