Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) has defended its decision to contribute R18 million for a risk assessment probe reportedly costing R50 million at the behest of former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter, saying the work falls squarely within the ambit of its responsibilities.
Business Unity South Africa (Busa) CEO Cas Coovadia and BLSA CEO Busi Mavuso said at a joint media briefing on Thursday that the appointment of George Fivaz Forensic & Risk to investigate corruption at Eskom was not an anomaly but to support the work of law enforcement authorities confronting systemic corruption.
“Eskom continues to be the ground zero for siphoning funds out of the state,” Mavuso said.
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“Enabling a capable state to provide support to state-owned institutions and other public sector initiatives is in the ordinary [course] of business for BLSA,” Mavuso said.
De Ruyter approached BLSA in 2021 to assist with the risk assessment at Eskom, the results of which could be handed over to law enforcement authorities to further investigate or prosecute. He has on numerous occasions lamented the high levels of crime and corruption at Eskom. He recently implicated a senior politician, claiming the politician had said people should be “allowed to eat” in relation to the alleged spending of an $8.5 billion climate change fund. He alleged that the power utility conservatively loses R1 billion a month to corruption.
It was on based on the understanding that De Ruyter had gone through internal processes in an attempt to address the allegedly illegal acts at Eskom that intervention was deemed necessary, Coovadia said.
“We were also aware that it was a matter of public knowledge that the Eskom CEO was … trying to get the authorities involved in dealing with that. So the work he asked us to fund, in our view, was work that would actually enable the authorities [to act],” said Coovadia.
According to News24 reports, the probe cost R50 million.
While the source of the balance of the R50 million remains unclear, Mavuso said the BLSA’s contribution of R18 million received full board support. She said the funds came from an existing budget allocation within BLSA, reserved for spending on initiatives of a similar nature.
There has been some backlash against the probe from the likes of the Black Business Council, which said in a statement last week that BLSA was teetering on interfering in Eskom’s issues.
But both the BLSA and Busa hit back strongly against the criticism.
“We don’t consider that interference, it is certainly our view that the work we are being asked to fund will be used by Eskom to actually inform law enforcement,” Coovadia said.
Mavuso confirmed that BLSA received the Fivaz report and said the contents suggest that it was handed over to law enforcement agencies.