It appears acting Eskom CEO Matshela Koko, who has been denying talking to his stepdaughter’s business partner of Impulse International, Pragasen Pather, has phone records proving otherwise.
According to Sunday Times, Koko spoke with his stepdaughter’s business partner days before and after the power utility awarded them the multimillion-rand contracts to their company. These telephonic details show at least 52 phone calls between Koko and Pather during the period of April and November 2016.
The calls are said to be part of an investigation of whether there was a conflict of interest when Impulse International scored contracts of about R1.8 billion from Eskom.
When Choma was appointed director at Impulse International over a period 11 months, Impulse was awarded eight lucrative contracts from a division of Eskom that Koko headed until he was appointed acting CEO in December.
Living in the same house with his stepdaughter, Koko claimed he did not know that she was a director at Impulse International.
According to Sunday Times, the telephone records show how on April 1, 2016 — the day Choma started working as nonexecutive director at Impulse International — Koko phoned Pather at 7.38am. The two spoke for about two minutes.
Another call was made by Koko on August 1 — three weeks before Impulse International was awarded two contracts worth almost R100 million and again on August 22 — two days after the contracts were finalised and two days before a R300-million contract for trunk cabling for the Kusile power station’s unit 2 was signed in October.
“Out of the 52 calls between the two, Koko made 36 calls to Pather, and Pather called Koko 16 times,” states Sunday Times.
Nonetheless, when Koko was asked on March 17 about his relationship with Pather, he told the Sunday paper: “I didn’t know anything about Impulse except that they were Eskom service providers. I have no relationship with them, or the CEO, until I found out my stepdaughter worked for them and terminated that relationship.”
In his response, Pather said: “I don’t know Koko. I only met him at industry conferences.”
What is of much concern is Pather claimed Koko called him for help with load-shedding issues, whereas South Africa did not experience any loadshedding in 2016.
“Koko and I have a business relationship, which is between Eskom and Impulse International, which dates back to late 2015. I understand the phone calls are under investigation by the Eskom board,” Pather said this week.
“I talk to all suppliers of Eskom all the time. It’s not unusual and Pragasen is the CEO of Impulse International, which is one of our suppliers,” he told the Sunday paper.
Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe confirmed that the board had appointed law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr to investigate the allegations involving Koko, Choma and Impulse International, and are expected to finalise the investigations within a month.
Impulse International has been awarded about R1.8 billion in tenders from Eskom since 2014, and, of those deals, contracts of R1 billion were awarded while Choma was a director at the company, a position she resigned from in October.
Impulse International with Dynamic Instruments, subcontracted by Swiss company ABB, were also among the beneficiaries of a R350 million “demobilisation claim” submitted by ABB to Eskom. The beneficiaries have already been paid R72 million. Saswato Das, head of external communications at ABB, said the company was going to investigate all the allegations made against it.