Questions raised over suspicious email address linked to Gupta associate
A suspicious email address titled "Business Man" which has been linked to Gupta associate Salim Essa and former Department of Enterprises director-general Richard Seleke has raised concerns from Deputy Chief Raymond Zondo about outside interference in the business of Eskom.
Former Eskom board chairperson Ben Ngubane took the stand at the inquiry on Friday. The Zondo Commission is currently investigating corruption matters linked to Eskom.
This was Ngubane's second appearance at the inquiry as he had previously appeared in the inquiry's SABC investigations.
Ngubane was asked about his tenure at Eskom specifically regarding emails that he along with former Eskom employees Matshela Koko and Suzanne Daniels had shared with an outside source.
The commission raised evidence that an email address called Business Man had been linked to Gupta associate Salim Essa. This email address had received a lot of emails from Koko, Daniels and Ngubane.
Ngubane denied that the email address belonged to Essa. He said all along he was aware that the email address belonged to Seleke as the DG at the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE).
Ngubane was shown emails he received from this account. One email stated that Eskom's board should stop advertising spend on specific media houses such as the Sunday Times and the Mail & Guardian.
Another email had also addressed Gupta-linked Tegeta's bid to win tender contracts at Eskom.
Ngubane insisted that he knew nothing about Essa's links to the email address.
The idea of Eskom's board being influenced by outside sources such as DPE rased Zondo concerns.
He questioned why Eskom's board was constantly being bombarded with instructions from outside.
"Why did the DG of DPE have to get involved in how Eskom media statements should be? The board should be able to make its own decisions. Why should it look like he was micromanaging the chairperson?" Zondo questioned.
Ngubane responded that it was a common occurrence that the board had to deal with requests from DPE. He said even his predecessor Zola Tsotsi had also often sent statements to be double-chacked by DPE.
Ngubane was unhappy when asked about Tsotsi statements that he led a "Gupta board".
He accused Tsotsi of being linked to other dodgy tenders at the time.
On Thursday, the inquiry heard from former board chairperson Zola Tsotsi and former board member Venete Klein who both gave differing views on how four Eskom executives were suspended in March 2015.
Three of the executives, including former Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona, received an R6 million payout for their departure from the power utility.