Eskom gathering not illegal, says DA

File photo: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

File photo: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Published Jan 20, 2016

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Johannesburg – The Democratic Alliance on Wednesday rubbished claims by Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown and Eskom that two of the party’s MPs and some supporters illegally occupied the utility’s head office in Johannesburg.

DA MPs Natasha Mazzone and Kevin Mileham led a group of supporters to Megawatt Park on Wednesday to hand over a petition, which they claim were signed by some 77 000 South Africans, demanding that the Eskom executives pay back about R73 million in performance bonuses paid out in the last seven years.

“The arrangement to receive the petition was made with Eskom Stakeholder Spokesperson, Mr Loyiso Jiya,” Mazzone said in a media statement.

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“On arrival at Megawatt Park today (Wednesday), the MPs approached the security gates and explained they were from the DA and wanted to hand over the petition. The security guards let them in no questions asked.”

After waiting 30 minutes for Jiya, Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe arrived and after having the contents of the document explained to him, he accepted the petition, Mazzone said.

“At this point he posed for a photo taken by a journalist. Again, all of the above can be confirmed by security camera footage,” she said.

“Once the handover was complete, the group left Megawatt Park in a peaceful and non-disruptive manner.”

Earlier on Wednesday, both Brown and Eskom released a statement condemning the behaviour of Mazzone, Mileham and the DA supporters.

Brown described the party’s actions as “unacceptable” and “irresponsible”.

“MPs should be conversant with the laws governing protests. Acting in a legal and responsible manner would have required them to request permission from the relevant authorities and notify Eskom before embarking on this reckless action,” the minister said in a statement.

“One expects more from elected representatives of South Africa. I appeal to the DA leader, Mmusi Maimane, who last year delivered a memorandum at my office, to educate Mazzone and Mileham on courtesy, protocol and the laws governing protests.”

Mazzone denied it was their intention to protest, saying: “It must be noted that in stark contrast to Minister Brown’s statement, this was not a protest. It was an arranged meeting with Mr Jiya to hand over a petition.”

In its statement, Eskoms also termed the gathering a protest, saying the party’s demands were “frivolous and preposterous”.

“This action by the DA was unnecessary. It was cheap politicking and electioneering of the worst kind. More so because the issues raised in the petition are the same issues that have been raised in Parliament, which have been addressed several times,” the utility said in a statement.

It said it would be launching a forensic investigation into “the authenticity of the signatories (to the petition) and the possibility that fraud may have been committed”, after it uncovered some discrepancies in the document.

“But most alarming is the fact that some of the identity numbers of the signatories to the memorandum are nonsensical and do not exist (eg. 780567…, 870431…,723652…). At least one cellphone number is the call centre number of the Financial Services Board,” Eskom said.

“Some signatures appear to have been executed by the same person and the petitioners managed to sign the petition in one page in first name alphabetical order.”

African News Agency

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