Matshela Koko
JOHANNESBURG - Suspended Eskom executive Matshela Koko is fiercely fighting efforts to remove him from the power utility and, in a letter to Eskom, has pushed back on a demand by Eskom’s funders that he should leave the company.

Eskom on Wednesday suspended Koko with immediate effect, pending an investigation of new charges against him.

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe yesterday declined to reveal the specific charges that Koko was facing, except to say that these related to “lapses in corporate governance.”

He said the power utility decided to institute the charges against Koko “because new information emerged.”

Business Report understands that the charges that Koko is facing relate to, among others, lying in Parliament during his appearance before the portfolio committee on public enterprises inquiry into corruption and state capture, not disclosing that the Gupta family had paid for his trip to Dubai as well as leaking documents to the Gupta family.

Phasiwe said there was no witch hunt against Koko. “Mr Koko will get a fair hearing. He will get an opportunity to defend himself,” he said. Koko took to Twitter on Wednesday to confirm his suspension. At the same time, he also vowed to clear his name.

In a letter to Eskom, Koko’s lawyers accused Eskom’s lenders of heavy handedness for demanding his removal as a precondition for funding the utility. The lawyers said the demand was an unlawful attack on Koko’s constitutional right to fair labour practices.

Negotiations

“Our client fully expects and demands that Eskom will point this out to the investors in the ongoing negotiations with them to secure continued investment for Eskom,” the letter said.

It said the investors’ demands were premature in light of the ongoing parliamentary probe and the commission of inquiry into state capture.

Phasiwe said there were about 160 cases of contracts worth R1billion that Eskom was investigating.

Koko on Friday last week successfully blocked Eskom from suspending him.

The Labour Court threw Koko a lifeline when it issued an interim order restraining Eskom from firing Koko.

This followed a meeting on Thursday last week between Koko and interim group chief executive Phakamani Hadebe at which Hadebe reportedly ordered Koko to resign within 25 hours or be fired.

The new Eskom board, under the leadership of Jabu Mabuza, has been talking tough on corruption and mismanagement.

A number of Eskom executives, including former chief financial officer Anoj Singh and former acting head of group capital Prish Govender, jumped ship last week.

Speaking at the release of Eskom’s interim results for the six months ended September 30, Hadebe encouraged whistle blowing at the power utility.

“The staff members, irrespective of their level in the institution, are given the space to raise their hand ‘so and so can’t be in the exco team because he or she lacks credibility.’ That is the kind of culture that we want to build."

-BUSINESS REPORT