Eskom Lied About Bowmans Mandate

IN AN ONGOING battle between Eskom and Econ Oil & Energy, new evidence obtained by the Daily News suggests that Eskom executives, led by the entity’s chief executive André de Ruyter may have overstepped their mandate and illegally appointed Bowmans law firm in an effort to push out the black female-owned fuel supplier.
In what sources close to developments have termed a carefully co-ordinated approach, insiders and evidence suggest that Eskom misrepresented the truth when it claimed in some media reports that its suspended chief procurement officer, Solly Tshitangano, with three other officials, allegedly cancelled Bowman’s investigation without the knowledge of chief operating officer, Jan Oberholzer.
The purported reports attempted to link Medupi-Kusile probes with the oil supplier, alleging that Econ Oil was part of the Bowmans mandate to investigate the group before Bowmans was halted from investigating the company as a result of Tshitangano and the unnamed officials who worked overtime to protect Econ Oil from being investigated.
Letters, in the possession of the Daily News, prove that this is another false attempt to discredit Econ Oil and officials alleged to have acted in collusion with Tshitangano, to stop investigations against the oil supplier.
Further evidence obtained, which has been made available to download online, indicates that it was not Tshitangano but the then interim chief executive Callib Cassim together with Oberholzer who stopped Bowmans from continuing with part two of the investigations due to the firm’s alarming costs.
This came after Eskom had in 2018 mandated Bowmans to carry out investigations into claims of fraud and graft involving contractors at Medupi and Kusile power stations.
A signed letter dated June 25, 2019, by Cassim and Oberholzer, shows that both declined a request from Jerome Mthembu, then interim executive of legal and compliance, to approve quotations for Bowmans for an investigation.
The mandate for Bowmans, which bears Oberholzer’s signature, made it clear that the probe was not about Econ Oil, but focused on the following: Turbine contract with the Generic Electric.
De-scooped contract with Tubular Construction Projects.
Boiler contract with Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Africa and Europe.
Building contract involving Stefanutti Stocks and some other contractors (JV), with Stafanutti Stocks being the managing contractor, and the site rehabilitation contract with Stafanutti.
On December 18 last year, long after Bowmans’ mandate had been halted by Cassim and Oberholzer after the law firm’s costs were found to be extremely high and unreasonable, Nerina Otto from Eskom’s legal and compliance department wrote a letter to Tshitangano and other officials raising concern about Bowmans not being on Eskom’s panel/database, but continued to illegally handle several high-profile matters for Eskom.
Otto probed whether it was permissible for Bowmans to illegally do work for the entity when they were no longer on the database and said that the matter should be escalated to the National Treasury for approval before executing any project.
In her letter, she concluded by indicating that the Bowmans transaction was irregular as it was not approved and should have followed the condemnation process.
Despite concerns over Bowmans’ continuation of doing work for Eskom, Econ Oil’s contract with the entity was cancelled on March 25 last year, following pressure from De Ruyter, who immediately after his appointment as chief executive, allegedly pressured Tshitangano and other Eskom officials to sideline Econ Oil, raising tensions between the two executives.
Bowmans was officially appointed to investigate Econ Oil in May last year, meaning that the forensic report would have been available only after these dates of appointment.
When approached for comment, Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said Oberholzer has never been asked for any input, neither has he provided any into Bowmans investigation into Econ Oil, or the termination thereof.
Former Eskom acting chief executive, Matshela Koko, who had previously called out Tshitangano for allegedly being used as a hired gun to drive him out of the power utility, came to the defence of Tshitangano, stating that the reports were manufactured to extricate Jan Oberholzer and justify the entity’s illegal cancellation of Econ Oil, and throw Tshitangano under the bus.
Eskom previously alleged that Econ Oil engaged in corrupt activities, which included bribing officials and overpricing tenders. The matter has since turned into a fierce battle between Eskom and Econ Oil.
Econ Oil has since refuted the allegations and claimed that the company was being unfairly targeted by De Ruyter and his associates.
At the time, Mantshantsha defended the allegations saying: “Eskom will not hesitate to take action to safeguard its interests at any point should it be presented with credible evidence of wrongdoing against any supplier.”