Minister Brown lays blame on Eskom

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JOHANNESBURG, February 23 – Beleaguered Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has laid the blame on Eskom executives following a damning public protector report that she misled Parliament on Eskom’s payments to Gupta-linked Trillian Capital Partners.

Her spokesperson Colin Cruywagen said the minister had received information from Eskom that no payments were made to Trillian, in response to a parliamentary question.

The reply to Parliament was signed off by former CFO Anoj Singh on behalf of the CEO, said Cruywagen.

“The Minister relayed this information to Parliament, but it subsequently emerged that Eskom had indeed made payments to Trillian.”

Brown is in hot water after she was found by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to have breached the executive ethics code and misled Parliament by denying there were payments made to Trillian by Eskom.

Mkhwebane has asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to take action against Brown.

Democratic Alliance MP Natasha Mazzone laid the complaint against Brown in 2017, amid allegations of state capture involving state-owned enterprises, including Eskom, Transnet, and Denel.

Brown had, in a reply to Parliament in December 2016, denied that money was paid to Trillian for the Duvha power plant insurance claim and that Eskom never appointed Trillian to negotiate the settlement.

The minister also said there were no further contracts concluded between the power utility and Trillian.

But Mazzone attached media reports that Trillian instead invoiced Eskom for R266 million and R153 million respectively.

Eskom has since admitted that its executives lied about the more than R1.6 billion unlawful payments to Trillian and global consultancy McKinsey.

Brown said she informed Mkhwebane when she later realized that Singh had lied to her. “When I became aware that senior Eskom officials deliberately misled me, I immediately informed Parliament’s ethics committee and the Public Protector of the false information. I instructed Eskom’s board to take disciplinary action against those who conspired to mislead me, Parliament and the country.

“After the Eskom and Trillian incident, I instructed the department to strengthen oversight mechanisms to avoid a repeat,” she said in the statement.

– African News Agency (ANA)