Zondo hears different versions of meeting Jacob Zuma did/didn't attend

Mawande AmaShabalala Political journalist
State capture commission chairperson, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo. File photo
State capture commission chairperson, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo. File photo
Image: Alon Skuy

The state capture inquiry on Monday adjourned prematurely because of technical problems brought about by bad weather.

The commission was hearing evidence from consultant Nick Linnell about his role in the suspension and eventual termination of four Eskom executives five years ago — including then CEO Tshediso Matona — to “make way” for Brian Molefe who succeeded him.

But heavy rains, lightning and thunder in Johannesburg spoiled the party — bringing the hearing to an abrupt halt just after 4pm. The weather had already interrupted the proceedings during lunch, leading to a two-hour break instead of the usual one.

Linnell, in his testimony, confirmed evidence by former Eskom board chairperson Zola Tsotso that it was SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni, with then-president Jacob Zuma's blessing, who spearheaded the 2015 events viewed as the collapse of the power utility.

Linnell, at the time, had been brought in to develop terms of reference and give legal advice for what was a proposed inquiry into Eskom.

On Monday, he said he was brought into the equation by Myeni with whom he had worked at SAA and Umhlathuze Water Board.

The commission put Myeni's version — a written statement — to Linnell. In it, Myeni denied everything that Tsotsi and Linnell said.

Linnell and Tsotsi said that the inquiry was approved at a meeting in Durban, in the presence of Zuma.

“The former president (Zuma) was not part of the meeting with Mr Tsotsi. The burden of proof is on Mr Tsotsi to provide minutes and evidence,” evidence leader advocate Pule Seleka SC said, reading Myeni's version into the record.

“I still insist, chair, that the former president was in the meeting,” was Linnell's response.

Tsotsi and Linnell had also testified that Myeni chaired the meeting at Zuma's official resident in Durban where Eskom matters were discussed.

“The pressing issue was not about Eskom, it was about Mr Tsotsi himself who needed help of legal nature urgently from me as a colleague because his board was moving to remove him,” Seleka continued, reading Myeni's statement.

Linnell shot it down.

“There was no discussion about Mr Tsotsi himself at the meeting, chair,” he said.

Myeni also denies that she was involved in a discussion of the executives who were to be suspended as said by Tsotsi and Linnell.

In fact, Myeni countered their version by claiming that at the time she “did not even know Eskom executives nor their acts of alleged wrongdoing”.

But Myeni does not deny meeting Linnell and Tsotsi at state house occupied by Zuma at the time, but says the agenda was not Eskom and Zuma only “greeted” them in passing as they discussed the threat of Tsotsi being ousted.

“My presence there had to do with a prior commitment which had nothing to do with Eskom or SAA. It is not true that I had prior knowledge of Eskom's financial position and operation matters other than information that Mr Tsotsi voluntarily gave to me.”

Linnell fell short of saying Myeni was lying.

“That simply is not true. The purpose of the meeting was to propose and approve an inquiry into Eskom.”

The commission will wrap up Linnell's testimony on Tuesday morning.

Zuma vs Zondo: He won't be able to run from the commission forever

Subscribe: iono.fm | Spotify | Apple Podcast | Pocket Casts | Player.fm