Oh‚ what a tangled web Guptas and Eskom weave

Thuli Madonsela’s “State of Capture” report this week paints a picture of the Eskom board entwined in a spider’s web of conflicting relationships with close Gupta family and business associates‚ but Eskom hit back on Friday‚ downplaying her claims.

Embedded below is TMG Digital’s map of the relationships that the Public Protector’s report described when it was released on Wednesday. The intricate web – mapped using network analysis and visualisation software – shows key players’ prominence such as Gupta business associate Salim Essa‚ as well as other subtler connections through family relationships and common business holdings.

A great deal of the “State of Capture” report looked at Eskom’s relationships and dealings with Gupta-owned entities in transactions worth more than a billion rand.

Madonsela’s claims of conflicted relationships included:

* Eskom chair Ben Ngubane having a directorship in a company in which Essa was once also a director;

* Board member Mark Pamensky having a connection to a number of Gupta-linked companies such as Shiva Uranium and ORE‚ as well as an entity connected to a special adviser to Minerals Minister Mosebenzi Zwane;

* Kubentheran Moodley‚ a special adviser to Zwane and a director of one of the companies connected to Pamensky‚ who is also a spouse of former board member Viroshini Naidoo;

* Connections between former board member Romeo Khumalo and Essa through several entities;

* Board member Nazia Carrim – who has since resigned – being married to an Essa relative; and

* Board member Marriam Cassim – who has since resigned – apparently being previously employed by a Gupta-linked company.

In a briefing on Friday‚ Eskom hit back at these claims with detailed rebuttals.

It claimed the allegations of a conflict of interest against Ngubane were of “no consequence because he did not preside over any transactions” relating to the Gupta firm‚ Tegeta‚ and that Essa had resigned from Gade Oil and Gas‚ the company in which they had shared a directorship.

The power utility also defended board member Pamensky‚ saying he had been a member of the board’s investment and finance committee but that no transactions relating to Tegeta had happened while he was sitting on it and he had recused himself when other issues relating to the company had arisen.

Eskom said board member Carrim had not been required to disclose her husband’s relationship to Essa and she had resigned on June 30. Cassim‚ Eskom said‚ had not been previously employed by a Gupta-linked company and claimed the Public Protector had been told this prior to the report being published.

The utility added that Cassim had not been involved in procurement decisions. She had resigned in April.

Naidoo‚ whose husband advised Zwane‚ had recused herself from some decisions because of her husband’s role. She had declared a conflict of interest in other meetings but had been allowed to attend and‚ Eskom said‚ her husband had since resigned as ministerial adviser‚ resolving the conflict. She resigned from the Eskom board in June.

The board also dismissed any potential conflict involving former board member Khumalo.

-SundayTimes

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