Gupta ally boasted that Brian Molefe would be Eskom CEO, Zondo commission hears
Johannesburg – The Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on Tuesday heard evidence that Gupta lieutenant Salim Essa bragged about having had a hand in the appointment of Brian Molefe as Eskom chief executive.
Henk Bester, former managing director of rail at engineering, project and construction, business consulting and operational services supplier Hatch, told the commission Essa boasted about his power in a meeting in 2014.
According to Bester, Essa told the meeting with former Transnet and Eskom chief financial officer and other Hatch executives they had already decided who would become the power utility’s next chief executive.
”They had decided Molefe was going to be the CEO of Eskom. You will see the power that we have,” Bester recalled Essa telling the meeting.
Commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo was left wondering how Essa knew that Molefe would be named Eskom boss, which happened the following year.
Bester said Essa was trying to indicate the power they had.
Essa told them that with the power they had, they could do anything.
He also demanded Hatch include him in the R1 billion contract it was eyeing at Transnet Capital Projects and promised he would ensure the company got the contract and then increase the budget because “they were in control”.
Bester said the overall budget of the project, which was for the provision of engineering, construction and project management services, was R1bn but Essa promised to grow that amount to over R2bn.
He said he informed Essa that he did not know what he was talking about as Hatch’s overall submission was just over R800m for rail while the budget was R750m for port.
“I left the meeting shocked,” said Bester, adding he wrote a complete affidavit about the incident for Hatch’s auditors and legal team.
Bester continues to give evidence at the commission.