Public protector asked to probe Eskom tenders

Siseko Njobeni

Johannesburg - The Helen Suzman Foundation has asked Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to probe Eskom, Chancellor House and the ANC following the damning Hitachi revelations.

The request follows recent claims by the United States Securities Exchange Commission about the awarding of Eskom tenders to Hitach Power Africa.

The commission has made damning allegations against Hitachi Power Africa and Chancellor House, which include Hitachi’s efforts to get favours during the adjudication of Eskom tenders.

The commission alleged that Hitachi sold a 25% interest to Chancellor House, the ANC’s investment arm, in order to land the lucrative contracts at Eskom’s Medupi and Kusile power stations. Hitachi was awarded tenders worth approximately US$5.6m (R78m at the current exchange rate), earning Chancellor House $1m (R13.9m) in “success fees”.

“If correct, these parties are likely to have contravened, inter alia, provisions of the Constitution, the Public Finance Management Act, the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, the Prevention of Organised Crime Act and the Companies Act.

Particularly concerning is the apparent overlap between the private financial interests of members of the government and the ANC and the possible misuse of state funds,” the Foundation said in a statement.

While Hitachi has paid $19m to settle the case in the United States, the revelations have reinvigorated interest in the matter in South Africa.

Helen Suzman director Francis Antonie said the Foundation lodged the complaint in the hope of getting “a comprehensive view” of what transpired with the power station tenders.

“We hope that the public protector can trace the paper trail and find out who benefited from the contracts and who benefited unlawfully,” Antonie said.

The Public Protector's office has confirmed receipt of the complaint.