Come clean on Gupta coal, DA tells Brown

Matthew le Cordeur

Cape Town – Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown should table an uncensored contract agreement between Eskom and one of its coal suppliers owned by the Gupta family, the Democratic Alliance (DA) urged on Wednesday.

The Sunday Times reported on September 13 that Gupta-owned Tegeta Exploration and Resources had landed a R4bn deal to supply Majuba power station in Mpumalanga with coal for the next 10 years, despite having allegedly been rejected by Eskom since 2011 due to their poor standard of coal.

In a reply to a DA parliamentary question on September 16, Brown confirmed that Tegeta Exploration and Resources had been awarded a contract to supply coal to Eskom.

“The details of the contract are commercially sensitive as per contractual terms,” she said. “The contract is for the supply of coal to Eskom … (and) followed the relevant governance process for the commodity in question.”

Natasha Mazzone, DA MP and shadow minister of public enterprises, said “instead of hiding the details of the contract”, Brown should “prove to South Africans that the contract with Tegeta Exploration and Resources is above board”.

Mazzone said in a statement on Wednesday that she wants Brown to appear before Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises to table the “full and uncensored” contract agreement between Eskom and Tegeta Exploration and Resources.

Brown must “show parliament that the price paid for the supply of coal is a fair market value, and that the quality of coal supplied is not substandard or compromised in any way”, said Mazzone.

Trade union Solidarity also expressed its “concern about the quality of the coal delivered to Eskom by the Guptas” on Wednesday.

“Should the quality of the coal prove inadequate, Eskom would not be able to meet the country’s electricity needs and load shedding would be reinstated,” said Dr Eugene Brink, senior researcher at the Solidarity Research Institute.

The Gupta family's Oakbay Investments CEO Nazeem Howa told the SABC in September that the “daily testing at Eskom-controlled labs will prove that their coal is not sub-standard”.

Brown spokesperson Colin Cruywagen told Fin24 on Wednesday that the minister “has consistently responded to similar questions in exactly the same way (and) the member (Mazzone) had no complaints then”.

“I wish to reiterate that, while Minister Brown provides shareholder oversight, the awarding of contracts, within Eskom’s Delegation of Authority Framework, is an operational matter."

He said Brown’s view is “that the awarding of contracts must in all circumstances follow supply chain management and procurement policies and procedures”.

Eskom and Tegeta Exploration and Resources did not respond to Fin24's media inquiry on Wednesday.