File photo: INLSA
JOHANNESBURG - Eskom has suspended another senior executive as the utility conducts an investigation into allegations of corruption.

Eskom suspended group executive for capital Abram Masango pending the investigation.

Masango was the executive ultimately responsible for Eskom’s key projects, including the Kusile Power Station. This week Business Report (BR) divulged that the station’s senior manager for contract management, France Hlakudi, was implicated in an anonymous letter that was recently sent to acting chairperson Zethembe Khoza, which alleged that there was corruption at Kusile.

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Eskom and the police are investigating the matter. Today BR can reveal that Masango and Hlakudi had also been placed on preliminary suspension while their lawyers requested a detailed scope of the investigation prior to making representations in response to the allegations.

Eskom yesterday declined to comment on specific details of the suspensions. “Eskom generally does not discuss the details of its internal disciplinary processes with third parties, suffice to say that all the affected individuals will be afforded a fair disciplinary process,” the utility said.

“Having said this, it is important to note that Eskom has launched an internal investigation to probe the veracity of the allegations cited against a number of its senior officials.

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"Where evidence exists, Eskom has taken disciplinary action against individuals regardless of the positions they hold.” At the centre of the allegations of corruption at Kusile is Tubular Construction Projects (TCP), a sub-contractor who allegedly paid bribes to key Eskom employees. TCP is responsible for the erection of air-cooled condensers at Kusile. Eskom appeared to have directly paid TCP millions of rand, even though the two companies did not have a contract. Eskom has denied the allegation.

A person familiar with the matter, who declined to be named, said Eskom was investigating Masango for serious misconduct, which might include undeclared conflict of interest “and generally corrupt conduct.” As executive for group capital, Masango was responsible for Eskom’s multibillion-rand capital expansion programme, including completion of the Medupi and Kusile coal-fired power stations in Limpopo and Mpumalanga, respectively.

Masango is the latest Eskom executive to be accused of blatant corruption, as poor governance and apparent lack of accountability engulf the power utility. Generation chief Matshela Koko is currently on suspension for misconduct, mainly relating to his failure to declare a conflict of interest because his step-daughter was a director of Impulse International, a company that raked in millions of rand in Eskom contracts.

- BUSINESS REPORT