Former Eskom board chair, Ben Ngubane, has told the chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, that in his view it was random and not orchestrated that Gupta-linked businessman Salim Essa knew almost a year before that Brian Molefe would be appointed as Eskom chief executive in 2015.
Ngubane was commenting on testimony previously heard by Zondo from Henk Bester, who said he had met with Essa on two occasions in 2014, who was trying to convince him, Bester, to enter into a partnership with him.
Bester said was not keen on taking Essa up on his proposition, so in a bid to convince him by showing his power and influence, during one of their 2014 meetings, Essa told Bester that “they” had decided that Molefe would be appointed as Eskom CEO, Zondo heard.
“This is a very strange happening. I don’t think we have that many powerful prophets in this country,” Ngubane said, adding, however, that he “would call it a random happening”.
Ngubane said he was surprised that Essa allegedly knew that Molefe would be appointed as Eskom CEO.
Zondo told Ngubane that he had also heard testimony that despite not applying for the position and before he was nominated for it the following year, the now-defunct Gupta-owned newspaper, The New Age, reported in December 2010 that Molefe would take the helm at Transnet, a matter which came to fruition the following year after he was nominated by a then Gupta-linked Transnet board member.
Zondo further told Ngubane that he had heard testimony from former deputy finance minister, Mcebisi Jonas, that one of the Gupta brothers, possibly Tony, had told Jonas that the family worked closely with Molefe and that his career was well looked-after.
Ngubane said had Molefe, who had an impressive track record at the Public Investment Corporation and Transnet, been a mediocre individual touted to take up the position of Eskom CEO then “I would say definitely there is something amiss”.
Ngubane said considering that Molefe was one of the few black individuals with his capabilities, it would not be difficult to predict his career growth trajectory.
Zondo, however, said he found it strange that The New Age reported on Molefe’s appointment at Transnet when there was a competitive process in place to appoint a CEO at the entity.
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