Former Eskom group capital head, Mr Abram Masango recently told the commission of inquiry into state capture that he believed that Matshela Koko monitored his movements in 2015 following a meeting the two had with Gupta associate, Salim Essa. Masango said his phone was taken prior to the unscheduled meeting, to which Koko had invited him, and handed back to him when it was over.
According to a statement by Corruption Watch, the meeting happened the day before the suspension of Eskom’s top-level structure. Masango was a programme director for Kusile power station in Mpumalanga at the time and reported to then group capital head, Mr Dan Marokane. He also reported to Koko when Marokane was away, as a result, he honoured Koko’s impromptu invite to meet him at Melrose Arch. Marokane was on leave at the time, and Masango had travelled from Mpumalanga to the Eskom head office for a meeting, after which he got a call from Koko.
When Masango arrived at the office building to which Koko had directed him, he was led into a boardroom and introduced to Essa. He said Koko then told him about the impending suspensions, and that they would happen the next day. CEO Tshediso Matona, finance director Tsholofelo Molefe, Marokane and himself would all be suspended, but he would return to his position later.
Asked by commission chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo what went through his mind after hearing the news, Masango said he was shocked.
“What was going through my mind was disbelief. I mean, suspending four executives in such critical positions. It didn’t make sense. Koko appeared nervous when he shared this information, while Essa, on the other hand, was quiet throughout the meeting. The first time he spoke, he made a remark which struck me, as we concluded the discussion and he was preparing to leave,” said Masango.
Masango said he recalls Essa telling him that they (the executives who were to be suspended) are messing up the projects. He said Essa told him that they must deal with the contractors in order to fix the claims. According to him, the projects were going through a challenging time, so he gathered that Essa knew this detail. Masango said Marokane had been instrumental in turning the projects around and there was noticeable progress. Masango also said that he assumed that Essa was an official from the Department of Public Enterprises, and not a private individual with no connection to Eskom.
Once he left the building, Masango said he tried calling Marokane, his immediate supervisor at the time, but the Marokane did not pick up. He then shared some details of the discussion with Koko with a colleague he met with later over Kusile matters, before traveling back to Mpumalanga overnight.
“Given the working relationship with Dan Marokane, he was keeping us posted as his subordinates all the time. So, in my mind I thought if it is not coming from Dan, it’s not true. The next morning, I was called back to Megawatt Park for a meeting with board chairperson, Zola Tsotsi. Once there, I waited with two colleagues, one of them Nokululeko Veleti. I later learned that the two were asked to avail themselves to act in the positions of the suspended executives, just like me,” said Masango.
Veleti also testified to being asked by Koko to meet at Melrose Arch the previous day but declined due to her busy schedule.
Evidence leader, Advocate Pule Seleka questioned Masango’s accuracy on the date, 11th March, saying that according to Tsotsi’s version of events they met on the 12th of March, the day after the suspensions were carried out. But Masango was adamant that the correct date was 11 March, and that a later briefing of the broader executive by Tsotsi happened soon afterwards, followed by a media briefing at which the details of the suspensions were shared.
Masango said that Tsotsi asked him to act in Marokane’s position, and he accepted. He said days later, Marokane invited him for coffee and told him that the reason behind the suspensions was simply politics. Again, Koko called to let Masango know that he was aware that he had met with Marokane. Masango said he acted in the post until August 2015, when he was permanently appointed in the position. Marokane, like Matona and Molefe, had by then entered into a separation agreement with Eskom.
He told the commission that he had suspicions that his safety was in danger, as he was followed on several occasions.