Koko: Eskom was willing to hike coal prices to buy from Optimum

Former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko told the state capture commission on Wednesday that Optimum initially wanted to increase prices to R285 per tonne and the board had already approved a price increase of up to R296 per tonne, higher than what Optimum wanted.

FILE: A screengrab of former Eskom executive Matshela Koko appearing at the state capture inquiry on 1 March 2021. Picture: SABC/YouTube

JOHANNESBURG - Former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko said that contrary to what was being reported, executives and the board of the power utility were willing to increase prices to purchase coal from the Optimum Coal Mine, but the mine acted in bad faith.

Koko told the state capture commission on Wednesday that Optimum initially wanted to increase prices to R285 per tonne and the board had already approved a price increase of up to R296 per tonne, higher than what Optimum wanted.

But he said that Optimum wanted more and then opted for business rescue instead of arbitration because it had President Cyril Ramaphosa on its side even after Eskom had bent over backwards to accommodate the mine.

Koko said that Optimum Coal Mine already owed R2 billion in penalties that the company wasn’t paying and when it wanted to increase coal purchase prices to R285 per tonne, the Eskom board approved a higher increase of up to R296, but the mine decided to demand even more.

"I thought they had proposed R285 and you were willing to pay R296?" evidence leader Advocate Pule Seleka asked Koko.

Deputy Chief Justice Zondo asked for clarity: “You were prepared to give them even more than what they wanted?"

To which Koko replied, “Exactly.”

Then Zondo inquired: “I thought they wanted R500 at some stage?”

Koko replied: “I’m coming to that. This is what I call a kick in the face.”

Koko said that Optimum's proposed increase would have cost Eskom R5.5 billion, that the power utility didn’t have and that’s the reason it wasn’t approved.

And the company dropped the name of President Cyril Ramaphosa in talks to threaten Eskom.

WATCH: Ex-Eskom CEO Matshela Koko returns to Zondo commission of inquiry

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