Eskom chairman Jabu Mabuza. Screengrab.

Johannesburg - Eskom board chairman Jabu Mabuza says when the new Eskom board took over in January 2018 it found a company that was the “main theatre where corruption/state capture took place”.

Mabuza said various charges had been laid against Eskom officials that were found to have led to wasteful and criminal activity at the power utility. 

He took the stand at the Zondo commission on Friday. He is the first witness regarding the Eskom phase of the investigation. 

Mabuza was quizzed on why his board, which was appointed in January 2018, had not dealt with a National Treasury report which raised issues with Eskom’s contract with Gupta linked Tegeta. Treasury had found that the Tegeta deal and had found wasteful expenditure. The company was contracted to supply coal to Eskom's power stations. 

He said the new board had not dealt with a National Treasury report regarding the Tegeta deal which had recommendations. He said some of the actions that have been taken, including disciplinary hearings into charged executives, which were recommended by Treasury have been conducted. 

The board plans to deal with the report which was tabled to the old board and little was done at the time to deal with the issues raised. 

Mabuza said when the new board walked into its new role at Eskom, it found that the company was a “theatre where corruption/state capture was taking place”. 

He said Eskom had fallen from its mighty position and its funders had drawn the line and refused to help fund Eskom in 2017. 

“The funders said they were not putting any more money into Eskom. So that had many implications for Eskom. In January 2018 Eskom had to release its results and the JSE had threatened to delist Eskom bonds if the results had not been released. The auditors had also refused to sign off on the results.

“This was an organisation that had a better rating than the sovereign, an organisation that was one of the top five in the world. This is an organisation whose survival is so systemic in the socio-economic fabric of our country. All we knew was that there were a lot of graft and maleficences. The moral was low and people were not too proud to be associated with this company. So that what the new board found. The new board had to get those results,” said Mabuza. 

He said funders of Eskom had seen hope in the new board and trusted it with funds. 

“The funders had confidence that the new board would not steal our money. The funders, against the little credibility we had believed we could clean up and stabilise this patient. We tried to address the issue of procurement because as I have come to learn is that its called corruption but the game is procurement,” said Mabuza.  

The inquiry continues.

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