Former Eskom CEO Brian Dames has told lawmakers that he was asked to meet with "some people" whom he assumed were members of the Gupta family during his tenure at the parastatal.
Dames is giving evidence in a parliamentary inquiry into allegations of state capture at Eskom.
Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises is digging into accusations of grand corruption in the wake of the Gupta leaks emails.
When asked by DA MP Natasha Mazzone whether he had ever met members of the influential Gupta family, Dames said he was asked by former Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba’s adviser Siyabonga Mahlangu to meet "some people".
Dames explained that he met them in Midrand, but left the meeting feeling angry.
“It was a very strange discussion. There were three items mentioned, one was, if I can recall it, went like this: 'We’ve decided we can work with you.' I don’t know who 'we' was. There was a request for a coal contract to Lethabo. It was very strange because Lethabo is a unique power station and needed no additional coal.”
When pressed by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MP Floyd Shivambu for clarity, Dames was unable to recall which of the Gupta brothers he had met.
Earlier, Dames commended lawmakers for launching a probe into state capture at the power utility.
But he says it’s a move they should have taken action much sooner.
Dames, who served as head of the parastatal between 2010 and 2014, says that MPs should have been concerned when experienced executives started leaving the utility.
Have governance structures at Eskom been weakened to serve corrupt interests? This is the question MPs are trying to answer through their inquiry.
Dames, who has roughly 27 years of experience in the industry, knew exactly what was going on at the state-owned company during a critical period in its recent history.
During his tenure, there was a reshuffling of ministers and a major overhaul of Eskom’s board.
Dames says the tone of governance at Eskom changed after the 2010 Football World Cup.
“With the appointment of a new board at Eskom, I think it was myself, the finance director and one or two other members who were retained. The whole board was replaced and it certainly brought a different sense of tone to the organisation.”
He told the committee that by the time he resigned in March 2014, it had become difficult to vouch for governance at Eskom, which had been in good shape before the board changes were instituted.