Zola Tsotsi. File photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi/ANA
Cape Town - Former Eskom board chairperson Zola Tsotsi has been accused of lying to the parliamentary inquiry into state capture at the power utility regarding the suspensions of executives.

Former SA Airways (SAA) chairperson Dudu Myeni is set to blow the lid on what actually transpired when she met Tsotsi on two occasions.

Tsotsi told the inquiry that Myeni, along with former president Jacob Zuma, gave him instructions to suspend the executives.

Myeni has confirmed meeting with Tsotsi but denied that she summoned him to Durban.

“The information that was given to the parliamentary committee is inaccurate. I did not meddle in Eskom business; I knew nothing about Eskom’s financial position or operational issues. I did meet Tsotsi but he asked me for advice on how to go about removing executives,” said Myeni.

She further admitted that she brought in her own legal person to advise Tsotsi on the legal routes that needed to be followed.

“I gave him an outline of how I handled the removal of executives at SAA. I also brought in people to give him legal advice because he was trying to circumvent processes because he was saying the board was against him,” she said.

Myeni, who is due to testify in Parliament, declined to divulge any other details regarding the meetings. She was supposed to testify on Wednesday but that did not happen. The chairperson of the portfolio committee on public enterprises, Zukiswa Rantho, said they had received notice that she would not be coming.

Two sources have corroborated Myeni’s version of events. According to the sources, Tsotsi’s testimony in Parliament was fabricated to save his own skin. In it, he implicated Zuma and Myeni.

He claimed that, in March 2015, Myeni requested a meeting with him and Zuma to discuss Eskom operations. The said meeting allegedly took place at the presidential house in Durban on March 7, 2015.

Tsotsi claimed that Myeni was with her lawyer, Nick Lennell, in the meeting. He further claimed that during the meeting Myeni told him that he should institute an inquiry because of Eskom’s financial woes. The inquiry would look into the conduct of acting chief executive Tshediso Matona, Dan Marokane and Matshela Koko, with the view to suspending them.

The sources have refuted his claims. They insisted that Tsotsi was the one who reached out to Myeni, requesting advice on how to remove the executives.

“Before the four executives were fired, the former chairperson Zola Tsotsi, through Jabu Maswanganyi and a third party, contacted the former chair of SAA to say they would like to meet.

“She was not aware of what it was about but she agreed as it was a colleague. They had the meeting and Tsotsi said he was having issues with some executives which he would like to get rid of. In the meeting, they had discussions and he cited the financial performance of the company as the reason he wanted them to be removed,” said one source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The source added that Myeni told Tsotsi that he could not remove executives without following proper procedures but he was not having any of that; he was hell-bent on having them gone.

“She told him that she followed the normal processes, followed the company’s (policies), consulted legal people and her board supported her decision. That is how she got it done. How he wanted to do it was outside of the board because essentially it (the board) was against him. He was alone and, in fact, the board wanted to get rid of him; they were forcing him to resign,” said the source.

The sources said they later discovered that Tsotsi was not truthful when he claimed the executives were crippling the power utility. During that period, there was a lot of coverage in the media regarding the executives. Tsotsi allegedly reached out to Myeni once more to meet.

This time, she was in Durban and Tsotsi indicated that he wouldn’t mind going there to meet.

“Myeni was in Durban at the time. She told him that if it’s urgent, he can come to Durban if he did not mind. She was meeting former president Jacob Zuma at his residence regarding foundation issues.

“Tsotsi went to Durban along with Jabu Maswanganyi. When they arrived, they were taken to a meeting room where they had their discussions. He leaves out Jabu Maswanganyi but mentions other people’s names, I don’t know why,” said the source.

Tsotsi’s version was further challenged on the basis that he received instructions from Zuma. The sources said when he and Myeni met, Zuma walked into the room but turned back when he saw them together.

“The situation in the house is that there are numerous meeting rooms in it and the staff places people inside and informs the president of where the meetings are and with who. Myeni and Tsotsi met in one of the rooms.

“When the former president walked into the room, he was under the impression that he was meeting Myeni. When he found them together he greeted and left the room to allow the pair to continue their talk. He never asked what the meeting was about.

“We later learnt through the media that Tsotsi claimed he was instructed by the former president to do this, which is untrue. Yes, they met at the presidential home but he (Zuma) did not give anyone instructions nor did the former chairperson of SAA. Why would she meddle in the affairs of another SOE?

“During that, he (Tsotsi) mentions the names of the executives he wanted to get rid of, Matshela Koko, Marokane.

He said they were the core of the problems at the company and they were behind the load shedding.

“At that meeting, because he was insisting that Myeni help him to get rid of the executives and was told it would be impossible without the support of his bosses, she brought in her own lawyer to walk him through the process of dealing with such an issue. Lennell advised Tsotsi that what he wanted to do was not possible and gave the legal ramifications for taking unilateral decisions, but Tsotsi was set in his ways,” said the source.

The sources believe Tsotsi used the names of Myeni and Zuma to convince the board to support him. It appeared as though he was being blackmailed and believed the best solution was to get rid of the board members.

Koko has also hit out at Tsotsi, maintaining that he was only suspended because he refused to carry out unethical things. 

He repeated what he told Parliament when he testified. He said he was suspended because the board thought that he, along with the other executives, were sabotaging the country because of load shedding. He also refuted the allegations that he was blackmailing Tsotsi.

“I knew why I was being suspended. I was being suspended for refusing to take unlawful instructions from the chairman at the time, Zola Tsotsi,” he said.

Lennell declined to comment on the matter. He said the evidence should first be presented in Parliament. “May I respectfully suggest that the versions be first presented in front of the parliamentary committee. It would be better to analyse all the evidence there and then attempt to rationalise all the contradictory versions - that will make great journalism,” he said.

Maswanganyi also took that route, saying he would comment once the parliamentary process had been concluded. 

“The matter between Zola Tsotsi and Dudu Myeni is in Parliament. It would not be proper for me comment until the parliamentary process has been completed,” Maswanganyi said.

Two hours before going to print, Maswanganyi’s lawyer, Themba Langa, accused the paper of not affording his client an opportunity to respond and threatened to sue the publication and reporter.

Sunday Independent

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