Johannesburg – The Zondo commission has heard from the business rescue practitioner that was tasked with taking over Optimum coal mine when it faced financial constraints.
Business practitioner Piers Marsden concluded his testimony on Wednesday. His testimony was largely corroborating the evidence of former Glencore CEO Clinton Ephron.
Ephron had testified how Glencore was forced to place Optimum coal mine under business rescue after talks with Eskom on renegotiating the terms of a coal supply agreement fell through.
Marsden took over as a business practitioner of the mine and had the challenge of negotiating with Eskom on issues faced by Optimum coal mine.
He confirmed that the relationship between Glencore and Eskom was strained. He told the commission that Eskom refused to renegotiate the coal supply agreement with Optimum coal mine.
Optimum Holdings’ assets were sold to Gupta owned Tegeta in late 2015.
Marsden also told the inquiry that he found out about the controversial pre-payment made by Eskom to Tegeta while watching a TV news show.
He said the pre-payment to Tegeta was made on the same day that former Oakbay Resources CEO Nazeem Howa told him that Tegeta was short of R600 million to cover the cost for the purchase of Optimum Holdings.
Marsden said he was never involved in renegotiating the R2.1 billion coal penalties that Eskom charged Optimum.
The penalties were reduced to R250 million after the Guptas took over ownership of Optimum Holdings.
Moyane vs Gordhan
The inquiry also dealt with former Sars commissioner Tom Moyane’s application to cross-examine Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.
Both Moyane and Gordhan’s legal representatives made arguments in a bid to convince commission chair deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
Moyane’s legal representative Advocate Dali Mpofu told the commission that what was crucial about Gordhan’s testimony last year was not what he said, but what he omitted.
Gordhan appeared at the inquiry late last year and spoke on broad issues of corruption in the government but also implicated Moyane.
Gordhan said Moyane had lied to Parliament about his involvement in the awarding of a debt collection tender at Sars.
Gordhan’s legal representative Advocate Michelle Le Roux argued against Moyane’s application.
Le Roux said Moyane’s arguments to cross-examine were weak and that it was clear that Moyane was trying to reignite his claims of a rogue unit which were already dealt with by the Nugent commission.
The Nugent commission, chaired by retired Judge Robert Nugent, found that there was no evidence of a rogue unit at Sars.
Le Roux said the Nugent commission had already found that Moyane did lie about his involvement in the Sars debt tender.
She argued strongly against Zondo allowing Moyane to delve into issues that had already been addressed, saying if Moyane wants to challenge the Nugent commission’s findings, he needs to take the report on review.
Zondo reserved judgment.
The commission resumes on Thursday and former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene is expected to finish off his testimony.