Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) CEO Busi Mavuso said the private sector is committed to enabling a capable government, which is why they stand by their decision to fund former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter’s controversial private investigation into the utility.
De Ruyter initiated a R50 million private investigation into corruption at Eskom at the end of 2021, which was intended to complement law enforcement investigations at the utility.
From this investigation, forensic investigation organisation George Fivaz Forensic and Risk compiled a damning report on criminal activity at Eskom, which implicated top government officials.
However, the report by Fivaz has since been scrutinised, with journalist Jacques Pauw claiming it “contained no facts” and was “effectively worthless”.
BLSA also came under fire when it was revealed that it had contributed R18 million towards the R50 million investigation.
Some critics said it was unethical for Mavuso to contribute to this report, as she was an Eskom board member at the time. Neither the Eskom board nor the public were informed that the investigation was taking place.
However, in the latest PSG Think Big series instalment, Mavuso said the investigation was not “off-the-books” as many claim.
“When the request came, it was a request for us to help Eskom gather data that was going to be given to the criminal justice system for them to be able to do their job,” she said.
“You can imagine the frustration that the Eskom board and the Eskom CEO, in particular, has been experiencing for the past three years that he has been in office when he’s been trying to get the police and the criminal justice system to do what is supposed to be done.”
She said the “rot” at Eskom – the scale of corruption and misconduct at the utility – is well-known, yet little has been done to take those responsible for it to task.
At the height of state capture in the country in 2016, the private sector committed to “never again stand on the sidelines and not be part of the solution”.
Therefore, considering the threat Eskom poses to the country, the private sector decided to “put its money where its mouth is” and contribute to this “data-gathering exercise”.
“We stand by that report because if not the private sector, then who?” she said.
“Enabling a capable state is part of our strategic focus, and funding this data-gathering exercise, which the police and the government failed to do, was part of the ‘enabling a capable state’ intervention.”
She said the report does not reveal a trust deficit between government and the private sector but rather points to a public sector “that is not capable [and] doesn’t have all the resources and capability to be able to do what needs to be done”.