JOHANNESBURG – Parliament will begin an investigation next week into state-run utility Eskom amid allegations of mismanagement in issuing government tenders, a legislator said on Monday.
Eskom has been at the centre of infighting in the ruling African National Congress (ANC) since Brian Molefe, an ally of President Jacob Zuma, stood down as chief executive amid graft allegations. He was reinstated last month, but ministers then reversed his reinstatement .
Molefe had originally resigned after the Public Protector, an anti-corruption agency, raised questions over coal deals between Eskom and a company controlled by the Gupta family, wealthy businessmen who are friends of Zuma and employ his son, Duduzane.
Molefe, the Gupta family and Zuma have denied any wrongdoing.
Last week, local media began reporting on thousands of leaked emails they say expose how the Gupta family uses undue influence over politicians to win government contracts, including contracts from Eskom.
“We are going to open an inquiry as a committee into Eskom and look at the governance there,” Zukiswa Rantho, the chairwoman of parliament’s committee on public enterprises, told Reuters. “We are going to look at what we are going to do to fix Eskom. If we have to get information from those emails we will certainly do that.”
The investigation will include the Molefe “saga”, the alleged influence Duduzane Zuma has at Eskom and possible wrongdoing in the issuing of contracts to companies owned by the Gupta family, committee member Natasha Mazzone said in a statement.
Spokesman for Eskom’s board Khulani Qoma said the body had yet to receive formal notification of the inquiry but that they would cooperate with parliament.
“Chairman Dr Ben Ngubane is on record stating that the board would welcome any investigation into the affairs of Eskom,” Qoma said.
The latest allegations of influence-peddling are deepening a divide in the ANC as factions jostle for control before a conference in December where Zuma’s successor as party leader will be chosen.