Eskom CEO Brian Molefe said the only thing he has been captured by is South Africa’s constitution.
He was responding to parliamentarians on Wednesday, who were questioning Eskom’s relationship with Gupta-owned coal mining company Tegeta.
He disputed claims he has ever defended the Guptas, but said he is legally bound by the constitution to continue doing business with their company.
Molefe said that according to the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), Eskom cannot blacklist doing business with Tegeta without giving clear evidence of wrongdoing by the Guptas.
“Not to do business with Tegeta would require us to blacklist the company,” he said. “There is a process with the PMFA. We would have to inform them that we can’t not do business with them and provide reasons why we can’t do business.
“Then I get labelled a Gupta person because I don’t want to break the laws of the land, because I cannot blacklist them without reasons.
“Until we can give reasons to blacklist them, if they bid for a transaction and apply for tender, we have to consider them,” he said.
“By saying so, that makes me a captured person,” he said. “I am captured by the constitution.”
He said therein lies the problem, as up until now the allegations of state capture by the Guptas is “gossip and innuendo”.
He said it sounds like the Guptas have been found guilty by a kangaroo court. “It looks like people are found guilty without evidence,” he said.
Meanwhile, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane demanded on Wednesday that the South African Police Service explain to the people of South Africa why it is dragging its feet in proceeding with criminal charges the party laid against Atul and Ajay Gupta in March.
“After years of allegations over state favours, murky business relationships and clear-cut nepotism between the Gupta family and President Jacob Zuma, we made the case that this constitutes prima facie evidence of such illicit activity, and called on the police to conduct a thorough criminal investigation into this matter,” Maimane said in a statement.
“It has now been almost half a year and the public remains in the dark on this matter, while the Guptas and President Zuma continue to raid government in order to benefit themselves personally.”
The Guptas’ decision to sell their business interests in South Africa does not rid the country of their “destructive influence, and certainly does not absolve them from a criminal investigation into suspected acts of corruption”, said the DA leader.