Cape Town – Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has welcomed the announcement by President Jacob Zuma of an inquiry into state capture, saying this is the best route to restoring confidence in state entities.
Zuma announced the establishment of a commission of inquiry on Tuesday evening, saying allegations that the “state has been wrestled out of the hands of its real owners, the people of South Africa” needed to be investigated.
As News24 reported, the announcement came on the eve of a crucial meeting of the ANC’s national executive committee, which is expected to discuss the president’s recall.
On Wednesday morning Colin Cruywagen, Brown’s spokesperson, said the minister welcomed the appointment of Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to lead the commission.
“She (Brown) has said many times that a commission is the best route to restoring confidence in state-owned companies,” he said.
Public power utility Eskom, which falls under Brown’s portfolio, has since last year been the focus of a separate inquiry in the National Assembly.
For seven weeks between mid-October and early December, Parliament’s oversight committee on public enterprises investigated the mismanagement of public funds at Eskom, in a process commonly referred to as the state capture or Eskom inquiry.
This inquiry is set to continue in 2018, with members of the committee hoping to reconvene in late January – before Parliament starts – to hear evidence from witnesses including former Eskom CFO Anoj Singh, and the three Gupta brothers.
Brown gave evidence before this committee on November 22.
During her evidence, the minister denied reports that she had consulted with members of the Gupta family before making decisions.
This was was in reply to claims made by former Eskom chairperson Zola Tsotsi. He had testified that Tony Gupta and Gupta business partner Salim Essa had worked with Brown to compile a list of board members that Tsotsi had the responsibility of appointing to head various committees on the Eskom board.
Tsotsi had told the committee that, when he went to Brown’s house to finalise the list in December 2014, he had found Tony Gupta and Essa in her home.
Brown denied the meeting took place, however.
“I have never consulted with anyone on my executive functions. Not Tony Gupta or Salim Essa or anyone else. Why would I hand over my functions to anyone else?” said Brown.
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