Former government spin doctor Mzwanele “Jimmy” Manyi has asked the Public Protector to investigate whether Trevor Manuel, Pravin Gordhan and Nhlanhla Nene had been derelict in their duty as finance ministers over what he claimed was billions of rands lost to Eskom.
“We don’t want to assume and pronounce till the probe is done, but for now, we are saying that there is a slang in die gras
[a snake in the grass]” said Manyi yesterday, confirming that he had lodged a complaint on behalf of his new organisation, Decolonisation Foundation, on Tuesday.
Manyi, a staunch supporter of Eskom boss Brian Molefe, said that Treasury was “duty-bound” to protect the public purse.
As finance ministers, the three should be held to account if it was found that there had been anything “untoward”.
The complaint centres on the multibillion-rand tender issued for the construction of two power stations, Medupi and Kusile in 2007.
Described by commentators as one of the “most expensive projects in the world”, Manyi said that Eskom paid double what it should have.
He also questioned the subsequent increase in costs through the years, and said that contractors were not being held financially accountable for the delays in completing the projects.
“This all paints a picture of a dereliction of duty by the people who should be doing oversight and enforcing compliance, which is the national treasury.”
He defended Molefe, saying that he was being unfairly targeted by the treasury.
“Eskom is under good management and he is bringing Eskom into profitability, yet we have this public spat with Molefe getting harassed by the treasury.”
On Monday, the treasury accused Eskom of failing to cooperate with its investigation into coal contracts with Tegeta Exploration and Resources, which is owned by the Gupta family.
The treasury has stood firm against authorising a number of ventures and deals by Eskom and other state-owned enterprises, arguing that due process had not been followed.
Civil society and the business sector, among others, have come out in support of Gordhan, who is being circled by the Hawks, a move which has caused tension within the ANC and its alliance partners and sparked concerns that the independence of the treasury is under threat.
The office of the Public Protector confirmed receiving a complaint from Manyi on behalf of the Decolonisation Foundation.
Spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said that the complaint would first be assessed to determine whether it had any merit.
This process usually takes five days, but could be longer.
It was reported last week that Manyi had laid a charge against the Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, accusing her of bias and of focusing on ANC corruption. He said he wanted the police to investigate.