Gordhan blames mix-up in correspondence for Eskom’s failure to present annual report
Cape Town - Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan on Tuesday blamed a mix-up in correspondence for the failure of Eskom to make its presentation of the 2019/20 annual report to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) on Tuesday.
This happened when Scopa took Eskom and the department to task after Gordhan wrote to the committee asking for a postponement on Monday, because the entity was not ready to make a presentation.
Scopa wrote to Eskom and the department on February 12 and February 19 asking that the entity make a presentation on the annual report and investigations, as well as deviation and expansion of contacts on Tuesday.
ANC MP Sakhumzi Somyo said the postponement should be granted if Eskom was not ready. “If they are asking for such postponement, give them the postponement, which is not later than seven days,” he said.
ANC MP Bheki Hadebe agreed with the postponement, but he had tough words for Eskom. “It appears as if Eskom wants to get special treatment. That is based on the sequence of events that occurred previously,” he said.
In August last year, the Eskom board recused itself from a committee meeting via a text message at the eleventh hour.
“We don’t take it kindly, especially if the request was sent on February 12, well in advance,” Hadebe said.
EFF MP Veronica Mente said the postponement should not set a precedent.
“This excuse, as much we accept it, it is highly unacceptable,” Mente said.
“You can’t give an excuse on something you submitted … It looks like someone is not ready to come to Scopa, or is not ready to account, and will come at their our own time,” she said.
But DA MP Alf Lees said the request for postponement was an interesting one.
“I understood that the annual report was submitted by Eskom four or five months ago. I am not sure why there is hesitancy to being not ready about it,” Lees said.
His colleague, Benedicta van Minen, asked what made Eskom not ready to present something that they should be familiar with.
“Certainly, on our side we are ready with questions. I want to express displeasure at the very late notice. It is really problematic,” Van Minen said.
Eskom board chairperson Malegapuru Makgoba said there had been a misunderstanding of what was requested.
Makgoba said information had been provided to Scopa and that they were ready to make the presentation on the annual report. “We don’t want to be treated as an exception,” he said.
Makgoba explained that following the February 19 letter, the board had wanted to hold a meeting to look at documents on expansions and deviations of contracts Eskom was to present to Scopa.
“That was what we requested to delay, not the annual report presentation,” he said.
“We were not requesting a postponement because we can’t present the annual report of Eskom. The letter, written to you chair, is explicit and clear,” Makgoba said.
But committee chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said he was in receipt of the letter from Gordhan on issues about the annual report.
Hlengwa charged that Scopa correspondence was sent timeously and he had expected Scopa to be contacted if there were issues of confusion.
“Eskom, like any other entity, will have to appear before Parliament. That is non-negotiable,” he said.
Gordhan said there had been a mix-up with the correspondence.
“Those are logistical matters to Parliament,” he said. “Nothing is being done to undermine the status of Scopa. I can assure you that Eskom and the department will do everything that has to be done,” he said.
Scopa agreed to convene another meeting next week to consider the annual report, but to continue with a presentation on deviations and expansion of contracts last evening.