I’m too qualified and experienced to ever need the Guptas – Brian Molefe tells Zondo commission
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Johannesburg - Former Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe on Wednesday distanced himself from the controversial and fugitive Gupta family at the commission of inquiry into state capture.
The former Transnet and Public Investment Corporation (PIC) boss told the commission that with his experience and education he can survive anywhere in the world despite having been jobless since he left the power utility nearly five years ago.
”My career does not need exogenous factors, I can take care of myself,” he said.
According to Molefe, he has a number of postgraduate qualifications, has attended executive courses all over the world including at Harvard University, grew assets under the PIC’s management from R300 billion to R950bn, made Transnet profitable and then went to Eskom and stopped load shedding.
He said he did not agree with the widely held view that he was someone who required assistance from the Guptas.
Molefe also addressed claims that he enabled the controversial family and that he left Eskom and became an ANC MP for two months because the plan was to eventually become finance minister.
He said he was not aware and was never part of the Guptas’ great plan.
Evidence leader Pule Seleka asked Molefe why Eskom approved the R1.68bn prepayment to Gupta-owned Tegeta Exploration and Resources in December 2015 while the power utility was pursuing Optimum Coal, which was then owned by mining giant Glencore, for R2.17bn in penalties for supplying substandard coal.
”It seems you could not see eye-to-eye with Glencore but played soft gloves with Tegeta,” said Seleka.
Molefe said Seleka was focusing on Tegeta because of his long history with the Guptas including attempts to establish a bank in the country.
”You are pinning Tegeta on me at all costs even when I am telling you I was in hospital,” Molefe responded.
He continued: “You are saying this because of my relationship with the Guptas. You are personalising it, I was not physically there. It was not done at my bidding.”
Molefe testified that he was indisposed between December 2015 and January 2016 after undergoing a surgical procedure at a Joburg hospital and therefore played no role in the approval of the R1.68bn prepayment later implemented as a guarantee.
He said the R2.17bn owed by Glencore-owned Optimum Coal was not a figment of his imagination and he rejected the narrative that suggested it was his scheme to impose the penalty to force Glencore to sell Optimum Coal to the Guptas.
The Guptas eventually acquired Optimum Coal and the company’s penalties were reduced to R255 million.
Molefe insisted that the R2.17bn in penalties were properly documented and that there was a basis for Eskom issuing them.
But Seleka disputed this, saying it cannot be concluded that the R2.17bn penalties were properly documented from the evidence.
Molefe responded: “It is not something I sucked out of my thumb.”
He accused Seleka of pursuing his conspiracy theories irrespective of his evidence before the commission.
Whistle-blower and Trillian Management Consultants chief executive Bianca Goodson will testify before the commission on Thursday while Molefe will return next week to give evidence relating to state-owned rail, logistics, port and pipeline company Transnet.