Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) has suspended its inquiry into allegations of racism and impropriety against Eskom CEO Andre De Ruyter. These accusations were brought to the committee by Eskom’s suspended chief procurement officer Solly Tshitangano, who was booted from the utility after he apparently failed to deliver on key performance areas.
These included not curbing spending and allowing a contentious contract with Eskom fuel supplier Econ Oil to continue, despite an investigation by Bowmans recommending the immediate suspension of business dealings with the company.
On Wednesday, SCOPA Chairperson Mkhuleko Hlwengwa stated that Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan had written to the committee requesting a suspension of the probe pending Eskom’s own investigation into the matter.
Eskom last week announced it had appointed advocate Ishmael Semenya to lead its own independent inquiry and once completed, make findings and provide recommendations to the utility’s board of directors.
“Adv. Semenya is free to request and to receive Eskom documents, and to consult with any witnesses deemed relevant and necessary for the purposes of this inquiry,” Eskom said.
“Adv. Semenya has also been requested to make recommendations to be pursued by the Board against any specific individuals if any wrongdoing is found,” it added. Members of the committee agreed that it would be a wasteful exercise to conduct a parallel probe into the matter.
However, Hlengwa slammed Eskom for “jumping the gun” by launching its own investigation.
“I can only hope that this is not a malicious compliance by Eskom and that the work will be done thoroughly and that it will not resemble the investigation into the COO which took 11 days and came out with a conclusion that is less than desired,” said Hlengwa.
Tshitangano has claimed that he informed the Eskom board of alleged impropriety back in February 2020. Hlengwa said for failure to take action at the time, Eskom needed to provide an answer.
“They need to explain to us and the South African public the allegations that warranted an investigation and did not do anything about it because that is a dereliction of duty,” Hlengwa said.
SCOPA has also suspended an investigation into alleged irregularities with regards to procurement and the management of contracts at Eskom, pending Eskom’s own inquiry. Eskom has been given 90 days to conclude its probe and report back to SCOPA on its findings.
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