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'Eskom did nothing wrong'

Cape Town - Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe on Wednesday denied that the power utility had failed to cooperate with National Treasury in its probe into the state-owned entity’s coal contracts.

At the same time he again defended doing business with a company owned by the controversial Gupta family.

Briefing Parliament’s portfolio committee on public enterprises, Molefe said Eskom submitted documents related to its contract with Gupta-controlled mining company Tegeta Exploration and Resources to Treasury on Tuesday after an instruction from Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown.

“I can confirm that the documents were delivered to Treasury. They have been signed by someone at Treasury as received. This [Wednesday] morning, the CFO [chief financial officer] wrote a letter to Kenneth Brown [Treasury chief procurement office] to ask if there’s anything outstanding,” said Molefe.

Molefe denied not cooperating with Treasury, saying the information requested by Treasury in April was ready, but had not been signed off by the board as required by Treasury. The next board meeting was only scheduled for September, he said.

Read also: Eskom defends ties with Gupta company

“We were supposed to wait for the board to consider the information. We were shocked and perplexed to read in the Sunday Times we are not cooperating.”

Can’t blacklist

Molefe also rubbished allegations that Eskom spent over R130 million on substandard coal from Tegeta.

“The issue of substandard coal has absolutely no basis. That coal was tested at South African Bureau of Standards [SABS],” he said, adding employees had been suspended for classifying the coal as substandard when, in fact, the SABS had found differently.

Molefe said, until there was a legal basis for it to stop doing business with Tegeta and the Guptas, he could not “blacklist” companies owned by the family, which are understood to have close ties to President Jacob Zuma.

Read also: Brown lines up Gupta file

“Not to do business with Tegeta would require us to blacklist them and there is a process in the PFMA [Public Finance Management Act] for blacklisting suppliers and, in terms of that process, we would have to inform them that we cannot do business with them and provide reasons why we should not be able to do business with them and therein lies my problem. I do not know what the reasons are other than gossip and innuendo,” he said.

“Until we can get a reason to blacklist them, if they bid for a transaction, if they apply to do work with us, we must consider it.”

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