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S.Africa corruption enquiry recommends prosecuting Eskom's former-board

reuters.com · 04/29/2022 08:10
S.Africa corruption enquiry recommends prosecuting Eskom's former-board

- The former board of South African power company Eskom should face criminal prosecution for a string of management failures and a "culture of corrupt practices" during the presidency of Jacob Zuma, a report said on Friday.

The more than 1,000-page report is the fourth instalment of findings by the enquiry chaired by Judge Raymond Zondo and is the product of three years of probes involving some 300 witnesses.

The enquiry was established in 2018 to examine allegations of high-level graft during Zuma's nine years in power from 2009, during which one scandal after another overshadowed his presidency and damaged the country's international reputation. nL1N2TK1G5

The report alleged Eskom had made irregular supply contracts, coal deliveries that violated the state power company's own regulations, as well as unlawful payments to McKinsey.

Eskom said it welcomed the report.

"Eskom has proactively set up a project team, supported by its internal and external lawyers, to ensure that the report is reviewed, understood and appropriate actions are taken to address recommendations made therein and to protect Eskom’s interests." the company said.

McKinsey said it would repay the fees it earned on the projects in question.

Zuma has repeatedly denied wrongdoing. A Zuma spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Zuma has refused to cooperate with the enquiry, which led him to be being jailed in July for contempt of court, before leaving on medical parole in September.

He was been ordered to return to jail by the high court but is appealing the decision. nL1N2T60KW

Systematic corruption under his government is considered to be one of the reasons behind Eskom's failure to keep the lights on, with frequent power blackouts that have crippled Africa's most industrialised country.

"Criminal prosecution should be extended to the 2014 Eskom Board," the report said. "They ... allowed irregular procurement in breach of both the law and Eskom policies, and ... fruitless and wasteful expenditure in the face of legal instruments that enjoined them to act otherwise."

(Reporting by Tim Cocks
Additional reporting by Alexander Winning in Johannesburg. Editing by Jane Merriman)