Former minister Lynne Brown's possible interference with Eskom board scrutinised
The details surrounding a March 2015 Eskom meeting where former Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown allegedly instructed the board to implement an inquiry and suspend four Eskom executives, has come under scrutiny at the Zondo Commission.
Former Eskom board member Venete Klein took the stand at the inquiry on Thursday.
She offered a different version of former board chairperson Zola Tsotsi's leadership of Eskom's 2015 board.
Tsotsi had testified earlier this week that the board had turned against him leading up to his resignation at the end of March 2015.
At the time, on March 8 2015, Tsotsi had attended a meeting at former president Jacob Zuma's residence in Durban. The meeting was chaired by former SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni who told him that an external inquiry into Eskom had to be conducted and three executives had to be suspended. Zuma later joined the meeting and told Tsotsi to take this resolution to Eskom's board.
A brief Eskom meeting then took place on March 9 where Tsotsi presented the resolution he got from Myeni and asked the board to vote on it. The board members at the time asked for more time and wanted Brown, as the shareholder, to address them on the matter.
Another meeting was then scheduled for March 11.
At that meeting, Tsotsi told the inquiry that Brown instructed the board to implement an inquiry in Eskom's affairs and that three executives, including former CEO Tshediso Matona, had to be suspended. Tsotsi said Brown added that the then CFO had to be included in the suspension to ensure that the inquiry was not impeded.
Tsotsi had also added that he was reluctant to push for a suspension of the executives and had expressed his concerns to Myeni.
On Thursday, Klein disputed this version and said according to her memory Brown made it clear that she could not "instruct" the board.
"When I was listening yesterday, I cannot recall the minister adding or mentioning the financial director (CFO). My recollection was the minister said she would support whatever the board agreed to," Klein testified.
When she was presented with the affidavits from Eskom's company secretary and that of former Eskom board member Ben Ngubane, who both stated that Brown did mention the need to suspend all four executives, Klein conceded that her version may not be correct.
"Chairperson like I said, I do not remember her saying this. I have to concede that is the right version," she said.
Klein said she supported the need for an inquiry into Eskom because of the motivations provided by Tsotsi.
"I absolutely supported the inquiry. I supported ( the suspensions) because the chairperson (Tsotsi) gave us reasons why he believes the suspensions should happen. The chairperson said there are four people he believed it would be best if they are not there," she said.
Earlier, Klein was asked about her tenure on the board and her thoughts on the board being labelled a "Gupta board".
She said she took exception to this especially with the links that were created in the media about her being linked to a Gupta associate, Ian Whitley.
"I am uncomfortable with having my name there. I think what was uncomfortable for me about the organogram I was being connected to minister (Des) van Rooyen who I have never met," she said.
Klein also questioned Tsotsi leadership style and said he often failed to communicate with board members.