Eskom executive axed over Koko tender allegations

Eskom's head of generation Matshela Koko.
Eskom's head of generation Matshela Koko.

While Eskom executive Matshela Koko is adamant he will not resign over R600 million in contracts awarded to his daughter’s company‚ the state power utility has fired at least one senior manager for his role in awarding the tender.

The axing of Dhiraj Bhimma‚ Eskom’s senior general manager: outages‚ has fuelled speculation that Koko could be on his way out and might approach the Labour Court to challenge a decision to fire him for his role in the tender controversy.

Bhimma has been dismissed with immediate effect in what looks to be further action against impropriety at Eskom.

Bhimma becomes the fourth senior manager to leave Eskom this week.

On Tuesday suspended Eskom chief financial officer and alleged Gupta lieutenant Anoj Singh resigned with immediate effect‚ followed by group capital executive Prish Govender a day later‚ and acting commercial general manager Charles Kalima on Thursday.

These resignations were sparked by last Friday’s resignation by Eskom board chairman Zethembe Khoza.

Bhimma’s termination letter‚ seen by the publication‚ reveals that he co-signed a single source justification to appoint Impulse International‚ even though there were other companies that could do the work.

“The sole source justification is specifically designed for a situation where there is only one supplier available to render the required products due to a well known and established market monopoly.

"Impulse is not the only organisation that can do this type of work and neither is impulse a monopoly on this type of work‚” said Eskom’s interim group executive for generation Willy Majola in Bhimma’s dismissal letter.

“This is regarded as gross misrepresentation of facts to a Governance Committee as the market was not tested through an open tender process in order to allow other companies to bid and consequently it has denied ERI an opportunity to get a deal for the service‚” he added.

Majola had offered Bhimma a chance to resign by Wednesday‚ but he elected not to.

“As a senior manager you have failed to act in the best interests of the organisation‚ which failure constitutes a breach of contractual and fiduciary duties towards the organisation … Having regard to the above‚ your services are hereby terminated. In line with Eskom’s conditions of service‚ you will be paid one month’s notice period. However‚ you will not be required to tender your services for this period.”

Last year the Sunday Times broke the news that Impulse International‚ a company in which Koko’s stepdaughter Koketso Choma owned a 30 percent stake‚ was awarded tenders worth a staggering R1 billion without proper processes being followed.

At the time Koko claimed he was not aware and had no influence on the awarding of the tenders. An internal disciplinary hearing‚ which was widely considered rigged in his favour‚ found him not guilty on charges he had acted to benefit his stepdaughter.

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