Gordhan challenges Brown’s belief that those implicated in state capture innocent till proven guilty
Former minister of finance Pravin Gordhan has challenged Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown’s belief that those implicated in state capture are innocent until proven guilty.
“In a context where we have state capture‚ pervading both SOEs (state-owned enterprises)‚ other institutions and law enforcement agencies as well‚ by implication. How are we going to get to a position where those who are truly guilty of things are actually going to be charged so that we can actually say innocent until proven guilty?” Gordhan questioned.
Brown on Wednesday addressed Parliament’s portfolio committee on public enterprises.
She said the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) had agreed on the terms of reference for an investigation into Eskom governance and procurement and to expedite the McKinsey/Trillian aspect of the investigation. The proposed terms of reference will now be sent to the presidency for approval and the issuing of a proclamation.
She said however the investigation will be too slow for those “baying for the immediate shedding of heads” on the basis of the leaked Gupta e-mails.
“The last time I looked‚ people were still entitled to be regarded as innocent until proven guilty or otherwise.”
Brown said she had not read any of the Gupta e-mails apart from what has been reported on in the media.
Gordhan said the department’s director-general‚ Mogokare Seleke‚ who was present in Parliament‚ was implicated in the Gupta e-mails.
“Has that been investigated? Is it going to be investigated? When can we expect the results of any investigation in that particular regard as well?“
ANC MP Mondli Gungubele said the increase in fruitless and wasteful expenditure by SOEs shows “everything is moving in the wrong direction“.
Brown said a declaration of interests is now required biannually by SOE board members instead of annually and that board members will be rotated annually instead of every three years.
“When I appoint boards‚ I hope that they are truly independent ... I can go as far as determining which companies people are in‚ whether they have qualifications‚ whether they have criminal records. I will never be able to test who their friends are. There is the human element that I am not able to change within these boards.”
Brown intends to arrange a special general meeting of Eskom in November to appoint a permanent board. Among the new board’s first duties will be to appoint a permanent group chief executive and restore the credibility of its operations.
She said new executives had to be appointed to Eskom and that they needed to strengthen its disclosure system to prevent executives and other staff and their families from doing business with the company.