Parliament - Parliament’s inquiry into Eskom adjourned dramatically earlier on Wednesday morning when the public enterprises portfolio committee chairperson Zukiswa Rantho revealed that she had been informed that members of the Hawks were at the inquiry to get her personal details.
She said she could not focus and continue with the inquiry process.
Rantho said: “Hawks know everyone’s address and details, and they need my details. I don’t know what type of Hawks that come to a parliamentary committee and ask for a chairperson’s details.
“I want to bring to your attention of this committee that I am already disturbed as the chairperson of this inquiry who is chairing now,” said Rantho
Members were outraged and asked that everyone introduce themselves at the venue to determine whether the Hawks were present and what their agenda was.
ANC’s Zukile Luyenge cautioned the committee from allowing “external elements” to disrupt the inquiry.
“We won’t allow this situation whereby elements from outside will be able to disrupt us and we are beginning to disrupt our own program. Who else do you think will be intimidated other than the chairperson in order to disrupt this inquiry?
We knew from the beginning about this. Let's not behave as if we did not expect aspects or conduct of this nature,” said Luyenge.
The committee was in the process of responding to two letters from the Gupta family when the news on the presence of the hawks came in.
The family through their legal representatives requested that they be given an opportunity to make representations before the committee.
One of the letters also made reference to the testimony of suspended Eskom head of legal affairs Suzanne Daniels.
In her previous testimony, Daniels told the committee that she met with the deputy minister of public enterprises Ben Martins, Ajay Gupta, Salim Essa and Duduzane Zuma in a flat near Melrose Arch in July 2017.
She said the meeting was intended to discuss an upcoming court case of former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe.
The letter submitted by the family refuted Daniels’ claims saying that Ajay Gupta was not in the country at the time when he was said to have been at the meeting.
But members of the committee were infuriated by the family’s chosen mode of communication.
Democratic Alliance’s Natasha Mazzone said the family’s chosen mode of communication was undermining parliament and their processes.
She, however, said she is looking forward to Ajay Gupta making representations before the committee.
“Chair I am delighted to hear that Mr Ajay Gupta is available, and so am I. He wants ten days notice today, let's give him a notice now. We will see him on the 16th of January. I can’t wait to hear what he has to say but certainly, you’re not more important than this government and you’re more powerful than this parliament,” said Mazzone.
Acting chairperson Lungi Mnganga-Gcabashe who took over the inquiry assured members that the Hawks meant no harm.
“We want to apologise in the matter the matter was conveyed to the chairperson of the committee.
“We want to apologise to the Hawks that they were unable to come because they were at the Scopa meeting (probing Transnet),” said Mnganga-Gcabashe.