JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – An Eskom board member implicated in a probe over influence-peddling in the South African government has left his post, the public enterprises department said, days after the state-owned power utility’s chief executive resigned.
A report by the Public Protector, a constitutionally mandated watchdog, has raised questions over coal deals between Eskom and a company controlled by the wealthy Gupta family, who are friends with President Jacob Zuma.
The report called for a judicial inquiry into the allegations of corruption in Zuma’s government. Zuma himself denies granting undue influence to the Gupta brothers who run a business empire ranging from media to mining.
A statement posted in the public enterprises department’s website and seen by Reuters on Wednesday did not give reasons for the departure of the Eskom board member, Mark Pamensky.
Pamensky is also a director of the energy unit of Oakbay Investments, which is owned by the Gupta family. Oakbay holds interests of the three Indian-born brothers, which include mines that won coal supply contracts with Eskom.
Pamensky could not be reached for comment at Oakbay Resources and Energy, where he is listed as a non-executive director.
Public Enterprises Minister Lynn Brown, who oversees Eskom, said she would be submitting her recommendations to cabinet to replace the vacancies on the board of the power firm.
Eskom CEO Brian Molefe said last Friday he would step down in January after being implicated in the investigation, but denied any wrongdoing.
The main opposition Democratic Alliance party said it would press for criminal charges against Molefe on Thursday.
“We cannot stand by as those in positions of power are allowed to abuse state institutions for their own selfish gain and to the detriment of South Africans,” it said in a brief statement.
The investigation on whether the Gupta family had an influence over Zuma’s appointment of ministers and the awarding of contracts to government departments and state firms stopped short of saying crimes had been committed.
(Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng and Stella Mapenzauswa; Editing by Richard Balmforth)