Eskom vows to comply with Public Protector probe into IPPs
Johannesburg - Eskom's management has committed to complying with the latest investigations by the office of the Public Protector.
The probe by Busisiwe Mkhwebane is expected to lift the lid on a controversial multimillion-rand agreement between Eskom and 27 independent power producers (IPPs), as well as how executives at the state-owned power supplier disregarded due process in the awarding of tender contracts.
Eskom spokesperson Dikatso Mothae yesterday said the state-owned power supplier would co-operate with the investigations.
“We will provide information as requested,” Mothae said.
The new probe by Mkhwebane could also reveal how some of the companies have shareholders who previously worked on Eskom’s renewable energy policy.
In a letter to Eskom board chairman Jabu Mabuza, Mkhwebane said the complaint laid by Phapano Phasha of the Anti-Poverty Forum (APF) alleges that the signing of the alleged contracts was improper and unlawful.
Phasa is also an ANC member who was previously a political commentator on the Gupta-owned ANN7 TV news station, and a strong supporter of former president Jacob Zuma.
Now Phasa wants Mkhwebane to have the IPP contracts set aside and those responsible to be convicted for corruption.
In its detailed complaint, it alleged that Eskom pays R93million per day to IPPs and the power utility will lose up to R34billion a year as a result of the agreement.
Writing to Mabuza, Mkhwebane asked Eskom to prepare a comprehensive response to the allegations and submit them to her office. She further asked him to provide her office with all tender documents, requests for proposals and quotations.
“Kindly ensure that Eskom furnishes the information and documentation," she wrote to Mabuza.
Signalling that the probe would be detailed, Mkhwebane wants all quotations and documents submitted by the bidding companies before the agreements were signed.
The probe could also draw in former energy minister Jeff Radebe and President Cyril Ramaphosa, who are both brothers-in-law to Patrice Motsepe, whose African Rainbow Energy and Power has stakes in some of the winning companies.
Mkhwebane wants to be furnished with the shareholders’ (which is the government) approval, if any.
She also wants to know who in Eskom signed the agreements and whether those individuals had the powers to do so.
Despite the celebration in some quarters that finally the matter was being probed, energy expert Chris Yelland said it was strange that the Public Protector approached Eskom instead of the Department of Energy, which he said manages the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement programme.