A corruption investigation at Eskom into “widespread looting” at the Medupi and Kusile power stations has been put on hold.
The reason: Eskom does not have any money to pay for it.
According to a report in the Sunday Times, Bowmans law firm has written to Eskom chairman Jabu Mabuza to ask why the corruption probe has been stopped – as it has already saved Eskom R5 billion.
It has also led to nine senior Eskom officials being referred to the NPA for prosecution.
“Eskom says it can no longer afford to pay for the probe it commissioned, but Bowmans in the letter questions why an investigation that was clearly paying for itself was terminated in this manner,” states the Sunday Times.
“At the time of suspension, the investigation had resulted in 12 terminations of service of senior employees, the identification of a large number of red flags and potential corrupt relationships and a direct saving to Eskom of at least R5.88 billion,” the letter states.
Bowmans previously stated that it was requested to join the investigation to assist the Hawks and the Special Investigating Unit – as these units did not have the capacity or access to technology required, added the report.
Mabuza has stated that Eskom’s plans to root out corruption have been “impeded by its dire finances”.
Eskom spokesperson Dikatso Mothae confirmed that the Bowmans investigation was stopped due to a lack of funds.
“We have temporarily put it on hold as a result of a lack of funds. We can confirm that the SIU is still conducting its investigation,” she said.
Eskom is in a huge financial hole, and has received billions of rand in bailouts from the South African government.
Its poor state of affairs is due to a combination factors, including corruption, incompetence, and the appointment of executives with no experience in the energy sector.
Calls to fix Eskom by privatising it and selling assets have been met with opposition, however.
Finance minister Tito Mboweni’s key economic reforms – which include selling Eskom assets – have been met with arguments from ANC alliance partners, including Cosatu and the SACP.
One of Mboweni’s proposals was the sale of coal-fired stations at Eskom through a plan to auction off the power utility’s coal-generation capacity.
Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said this strategy was completely opposed to the ANC 2019 elections manifesto.