Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba Picture: Jacques Naude/ANA Pictures
Cape Town – The Democratic Alliance said on Friday a long-awaited report by National Treasury on Eskom's coal contract with Tegeta Exploration will prove a political test for Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba.

It was reported on Friday that the draft report, which has been released only to interested parties, propose that a payment of R659 million to the company, which forms part of the Gupta family's business operations, be converted to a loan repayable with interest.

Reportedly, this was proposed because there was no evidence that Tegeta used the money for the stated purpose of buying equipment for its mining operations.

National Treasury could not comment on the content of the draft report, but confirmed that Friday was the deadline for comment by interested parties. It said the draft report has been circulated to Eskom, Tegeta, Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Accounts, the Auditor-General, and the Public Protector.

The report flows from an investigation by the chief procurement officer into contracts worth more than R10 million entered into by state-owned enterprises. The aim of the probe was to establish whether each such contract complied with public procurement rules and regulations.

Efforts by the DA's David Maynier to obtain a copy of the draft, last year prompted Tegeta to threaten legal action should it be released.

The issue also triggered a public spat between then finance minister Pravin Gordhan and the CEO of Eskom at the time, Brian Molefe.

In August last year, National Treasury issued a blunt missive saying it had since April repeatedly tried to get information from Eskom relating to Tegeta, including about money advanced to the company, met with “resistance”.

Molefe shot back that Eskom had always complied, except in one instance where it considered a deadline unrealistic. Tegeta later emerged as a key focus area of former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's investigation into state capture, with her report "State of Capture" setting out indications that Eskom bent over backwards to award the coal contract to the company and that Molefe had close contact with the Gupta brothers.

National Treasury committed to making the final report on the coal contract public. Maynier said on Friday, the test for Gigaba was not only whether he would honour that commitment, but also refrain from influencing the content of the final report.

"The handling of the final report will be the first test of the minister’s willingness to stand up to his political master, Jacob Zuma, and his most important clients, the Guptas, who control Tegeta Exploration & Resources (Pty) Ltd," Maynier said.

African News Agency