It all started on March 8 at a meeting at former president Jacob Zuma’s state house in Durban, organised by then SAA chair Dudu Myeni.
The agenda was to discuss details of a proposed inquiry into Eskom’s affairs and the suspension of top executives from the power utility. But what happened the following day at an Eskom board meeting remains a confusing affair that is becoming a headache for the state capture commission of inquiry.
This became evident on Tuesday during the testimony of former Eskom financial director Tsholofelo Molefe. She claimed that at this contentious meeting, only the proposed inquiry was discussed with no mention about a plan to suspend Eskom executives.
This goes against the evidence of former Eskom board member Ben Ngubane, who testified at the commission recently that the suspensions were in fact discussed at the meeting.
Then Eskom board chairperson Zola Tsotsi has also given evidence previously that the suspensions were discussed, though he differed with Ngubane when it comes to the details.
Tsotsi had said he had tabled Myeni’s plan — both the inquiry and the proposed suspension of three executives — before the board, CEO Tshediso Matona, executive for commercial and technology Matshela Koko and group head of capital Dan Marokane.
According to Tsotsi, the board members unanimously requested that the then-minister of public enterprises come and explain the rationale of the two matters.
But Ngubane, contradicting Tsotsi, had told the commission that Tsotsi had said the executives must be suspended because of misconduct.
“The chairperson [Tsotsi] said there were charges to be dealt with concerning the executives,” said Ngubane last month. “He said Mr Koko was caught on camera in a sexual escapade with a fellow employee at Eskom and that Mr Matona did not investigate this matter.
“The FD [financial director] Ms Molefe had met someone who had put in a tender bid and had a discussion with the person during the evaluation of the tender. These are the reasons he wanted us to accept the suspensions.”
But Molefe, who attended the same meeting, gave her own unique version of the events when she testified at the commission on Tuesday.
“The issues of the suspensions were not even touched. If we had discussed suspensions in that meeting, I could not have signed [the meeting’s minutes and resolutions],” she said.
The resolution of the meeting, prepared by an outsider who had no standing at Eskom — consultant Nick Linnel, who was deployed by Myeni — is mum on the issue of suspensions.
Evidence leader advocate Pule Seleka said the commission had since reverted to Tsotsi to explain the contradictions.
“We put it to Mr Tsotsi that there is no explicit reference to suspensions,” said Seleka.
Tsotsi had also contradicted Ngubane’s version about exactly when Molefe’s name made it to the list of executives who were to be suspended. According to him, it was only introduced at a meeting on March 11 by then-minister of public enterprises Lynne Brown, while Ngubane insisted it was Tsotsi himself who added Molefe’s name at the March 9 meeting.
Molefe, Matona, Marokane and Koko were all suspended on March 11. They were told it was precautionary so they could not “interfere” with the inquiry.
Three would later leave Eskom with a combined exit package amounting to R18m, while Koko was reinstated.
The commission sits against on Wednesday, with more Eskom-related testimony.