Tears flow at emotional Eskom press briefing

Emotions ran high and tears flowed on Thursday as the Eskom leadership attempted — in the full glare of the public spotlight — to come to terms with the implications for the power utility and its CEO Brian Molefe of the public protector’s state capture report.

This unfolded at a previously-scheduled press briefing on the finances of Eskom for the six months that ended September 30‚ 2016.

The briefing was scheduled to begin at 10.30am but was delayed by about 30 minutes as Eskom presented the report to the unions.

Finally‚ the Eskom board walked into the auditorium and television cameras were waiting.

The timing couldn’t have been worse for Molefe and Eskom chairperson Baldwin Ngubane‚ with the financial results released just a day after the State of Capture report was made public.

Khulu Phasiwe‚ Eskom spokesperson did his usual introductions and Ngubane followed through with the chairperson’s view of the six-month period.

But Ngubane‚ knowing what journalist were likely to ask come question time‚ went ahead and tackled the elephant in the room.

He expressed disappointment at the manner in which former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela handled the state capture report.

A visibly emotional Ngubane then asked that there should be no time for questions because Eskom would hold a briefing on Friday to deal with the public protector’s report.

Molefe had just left the podium and was sitting with his executives. As Ngubane explained the dire effects the report would have on people at Eskom‚ Molefe lost his composure‚ stood up and walked backstage in tears.

The tension in the room was palpable as Phasiwe tried to explain that the briefing would not entertain questions. Journalists sat in disbelief and a few moments later‚ Ngubane changed his mind‚ asking that any questions be strictly about the financial results and not the state capture report.

However‚ Molefe later spent ample time attempting to explain how Eskom came to do business with Gupta-owned company Tegeta.

Molefe added that Eskom would take Madonsela’s report under judicial review as he and the CFO of the company‚ Anoj Singh‚ had not been given a chance to reply.

He appear to regain his strength and was able to laugh off references in the report to cellphone records that indicate he was around the Guptas’ house at Saxonworld a number of times.

He said that on his way to and from work he drives pass the strip club‚ Teasers‚ but that did not mean he is at Teasers twice every day.

Molefe and Ngubane argued that they gave the Madonsela 120 files of documents containing information she required. Madonsela‚ Molefe said‚ then subpoenaed them for further questions‚ but later cancelled the appointment.

“The public protector never called me or Mr Singh our CFO‚” Molefe said.

He lamented the fact that while this report dominated the public discourse‚ his children would suffer‚ and would be teased at school for having a “corrupt” father. — Tiso Black Star Group Digital

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