Picture : Itumeleng English/Africa News Agency/ANA

The Portfolio committee on trade and industry has given the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) some breathing space before accounting for approving non-compliant coal for the Guptas.
The chairperson of the committee, Joanmariae Fubbs, has urged the new SABS board to come to Parliament in the next two weeks after Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies sacked the previous board.

Davies had wielded the axe on the previous board after allegations emerged it approved substandard coal for the Guptas to supply Eskom.

SABS chief executive Boni Mehlomakulu quit this week after she lost a court battle to keep her job following the axing of the board.

Mehlomakulu is a board member by virtue of her position as chief executive of the bureau. The SABS reports to Davies and the committee.

Fubbs said they wanted the new board to get its house in order before it could appear before Parliament.

The SABS was summoned to Parliament by the committee after it emerged it approved substandard coal for the Gupta-linked Tegeta to Eskom.

The issue of Tegeta and Eskom has been part of investigations in Parliament. The matter emerged during hearings in the National Assembly last year.

Fubbs said it would be better to give the board time to prepare before it could appear before the committee on how it happened that the SABS approved low-quality coal for one of the Gupta mines in Mpumalanga.

The Guptas have been at the centre of investigations by the National Treasury. It was investigating the Tegeta contract and last year it tabled a report to the standing committee on public accounts that Eskom’s contract to Tegeta was flawed and should be scrapped.

It said Eskom had ignored appeals to scrap the R4billion contract with Tegeta.

When Pravin Gordhan was still finance minister, he fought with Eskom after it refused to co-operate with the Treasury to hand over documents required for the investigation into the awarding of the multibillion-rand contract.

It took several months before Eskom succumbed and submitted the documents.

Mehlomakulu had also reportedly said she alerted Davies to the Tegeta coal in 2014, but the minister had ignored her.

It was only now that Davies has raised the matter and fired the board and suspended her. She later resigned after her court bid to be reinstated failed.

It would be another two weeks before Parliament gets to the bottom of the facts on the supply of substandard coal.