The Minister of Public Enterprises, Lynne Brown, has received a slap in the wrist from the Public Protector on a charge that she had misled parliament when responding to parliament on the Eskom/Trillian matter.
The Public Protector found that the minister inadvertently violated the Executive Code of Ethics after being misled by Eskom.
The matter related to a Parliamentary Question in December 2016 on whether Eskom had paid any monies to Trillian Capital Partners.
“No evidence or information could be found or was submitted during the investigation that Minister Brown deliberately intended to mislead Parliament and the public with her written reply,” the Public Protector said.
But by inadvertently conveying misleading information to Parliament, the Minister had violated the provisions of paragraph (2.3(a) of the Executive Ethics Code, and should be sanctioned by the President, the Public Protector said.
In a statement Brown said she notes the findings of the Public Protector.
The statement said according to the information the Minister received from Eskom in response to the question, signed off by the Chief Financial Officer on behalf of the Chief Executive Officer, no payments were made. The Minister relayed this information to Parliament, but it subsequently emerged that Eskom had indeed made payments to Trillian.
“When I became aware that senior Eskom officials deliberately misled me, I immediately informed Parliament’s Ethics Committee and the Public Protector of the false information,” said Brown.
“I instructed Eskom’s Board to take disciplinary action against those who conspired to mislead me, Parliament and the country.
“The standard practise of responding to Parliamentary Questions relating to operational matters at State-Owned Companies involves obtaining answers directly from the companies are signed off by the Chief Executive Officer and in this instance it was signed off by Anoj Singh on behalf of the CEO. This practise was introduced after previous Parliaments questioned the credibility of some answers to Parliamentary Questions.
“After the Eskom/Trillian incident I instructed the Department to strengthen oversight mechanisms to avoid a repeat,” said Brown.