The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) has urged Cabinet to improve the efficiency of its vetting system. The Chairperson of SCOPA, Mr Mkhuleko Hlengwa, said: “Unless Cabinet takes a concrete decision to firm up the efficiency and effectiveness of the State Security Agency in its vetting processes and protocols, it is going to be a major contributory factor to the collapse of the state.”

The SCOPA Chairperson said this yesterday during the committee’s meeting with the Minister of Public Enterprises, Mr Pravin Gordhan, to seek clarity on the allegations of corruption, theft, maladministration, sabotage, lack of consequence management, cartels and other financial irregularities at Eskom that were levelled by the former Group Chief Executive Officer of Eskom, Mr André de Ruyter.

The committee asked Mr Gordhan about the lack of vetting when Mr de Ruyter was appointed as head of the power utility. Mr Hlengwa mentioned that in 2014 Cabinet took a decision that all employees in the supply chain management (SCM) space must be vetted, including CEOs. “Didn’t it ever worry you, concern you and be of issue to you that we had a key critical SOE such as Eskom with an unvetted CEO? Not that the matter was never raised. The matter was raised on numerous occasions, including but not limited to reports that Eskom itself submitted to Parliament, and the point was persistently made that the CEO is not vetted,” he said.

Mr Hlengwa also mentioned the delay in the vetting of the National Commissioner of Police as well as over 300 people at Eskom who should have been vetted but have not. “I flagged this particular aspect to say it will continue to form part of your headaches as you pursue to appoint a new CEO at Eskom. There has to be decisiveness from Cabinet’s side on this one,” he said.   

Minister Gordhan indicated that he shared Mr Hlengwa’s concern on this issue. “I share your concerns. I think that whole process needs to change. I will certainly initiate some dialogue around that so that we set up a different way, as I indicated earlier on, because retrospective vetting is possibly not the right way to go,” he said.

Minister Gordhan continued by saying that his office had informed him that in November 2019, the then Minister of State Security had raised concerns about some Eskom officials’ resistance to and non-compliance with the vetting processes. “She then provided a list of those officials, which we referred to the Board and that was attended to. But no similar letter was received subsequently in relation to the CEO in question,” he said.

Mr Hlengwa informed him that SCOPA met with the former Deputy Minister of State Security and was told on the record about Mr de Ruyter’s non-cooperation with vetting. Mr Gordhan indicated that he was not aware of that.

Faith Ndenze
18 May 2023