Angry Ben Ngubane tells MPs to ‘bring it on’ as they probe Eskom procurement
Babalo Ndenze | 2017-05-30 16:01:55.0
Image by: Esa Alexander
Eskom board chairman Dr Ben Ngubane has dared MPs‚ telling them he “loved” their idea of criminal investigations at the power utility because he and his team have nothing to hide.
Ngubane was speaking during a tense meeting of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public accounts (SCOPA) which was called to discuss Eskom’s questionable coal supply deal with Gupta-linked firm Tegeta.
Eskom faced a grilling from MPs on the basis of a PricewaterhouseCoopers review of its coal supply contracts.
But a clearly incensed Ngubane told lawmakers “bring it on‚” saying he was not afraid of any probe into the affairs of Eskom.
“Bring the investigation. We will love it. We want to clear our names. We don’t want to be so tarnished as we are. Bring on the investigations. I’m very happy the minister has ordered the SIU to come in. Let them come in‚ let them pick up whatever is criminal. As far as I’m concerned there’s nothing criminal that we have done‚” said Ngubane.
Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown said last week that she had referred the Tegeta coal deal and all Eskom procurement from 2007 onwards to the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).
Explaining the more than R600 million advance payment to Tegeta‚ Ngubane said this happened “all the time” with other coal suppliers.
“It happens to cost plus mines (large mining Eskom coal suppliers) because Eskom needs the coal‚ so if you don’t pay upfront you won’t get the coal. In the case of Tegeta‚ we got guarantees. They pledged or ceded their shares in their mining operations to Eskom. That was the condition for the prepayment. We had to take that otherwise we would have been in serious trouble‚” said Ngubane.
He said the PwC report was a “self-corrective report”.
“We knew there were problems. They pointed the problems out to us‚” said Ngubane.
Ngubane also attacked the National Treasury accusing it of costing Eskom more than R500 million by causing delays in the company’s procurement through directives.
“We have lost R513.25 million negotiated savings lost to Kusile because of national treasury. Majuba coal costs escalated….but you must hear this‚” said Ngubane. The IFP’s Mkhuleko Hlengwa told SCOPA that Tegeta had initially operated without a water licence.
“Why do I get a sense that Tegeta was aided and abetted and raised like a baby to the point where it complied one way or another. Tegeta received special assistance‚” said Hlengwa.
The EFF’s Ntombovuyo Mente said the Tegeta contract was allowed to go ahead despite not meeting standards.
“When we started the CEO indicated that they commissioned PwC. Why? They knew that they were doing wrong things. Your mistake was to go to PwC. It was an uncalculated move. You have to reverse contract. Cancel it all together‚” said Mente.