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Eskom not complying with order: Westinghouse

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Eskom had failed to comply with a High Court order that it hand over documents related to the awarding of a R4 billion tender to Areva NP Proprietary, Westinghouse Electric Company said on Tuesday.

“It is Westinghouse’s view that Eskom has failed to comply with this court order in material respects,” Westinghouse said in a statement.

“Of particular concern is the fact that Eskom has failed to provide the minutes of the relevant board tender committee meeting on August 12 2014.”

It was at that meeting where the decision to award the tender was taken.

Eskom had also failed to provide a record of the secret ballot which was taken at the August 12 meeting.

“These omissions in respect of the documents provided are but two examples of very many documents which, although falling within the ambit of the court order, are yet to be provided,” Westinghouse said.

Notwithstanding that, on the basis of the documents that Eskom has provided, Westinghouse remained of the view the tender process was irregular, unfair and unlawful.

The company intended pursuing review proceedings, and reserved its position to comment on a statement by Eskom board chairman Zola Tsotsi issued earlier on Tuesday until Eskom had complied with the court order.

“The facts will no doubt speak for themselves once all the evidence is to hand, and the withdrawal of the application for interim relief does not lead to the conclusions which Mr Tsotsi seeks to draw in his statement.”

Westinghouse had initially wanted to take the power utility to court to get an interdict to stop it from either signing a contract with Areva or implementing the contract if it had already signed it.

It also wanted Eskom to provide documents detailing how Areva had been awarded the R4 billion tender to replace steam generators at the nuclear power plant.

Eskom said the tender was awarded by its board tender committee (BTC) on August 12, with both Areva and Westinghouse notified of the decision.

The High Court in Johannesburg ruled on September 5 the power utility had five days to hand over tender documents.

Westinghouse had alleged there was foul play in awarding the tender and said it had reliably learned that it had in fact won it.

But the decision was allegedly changed after Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown was told about the tender committee’s decision.

Eskom signed the contract with Areva on September 5 after Westinghouse abandoned its court bid.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Eskom board of directors said in a statement that it fully supported board tender committee (BTC) chairwoman Neo Lesela, as both a director of the utility and as the chairwoman of the BTC.

Zola Tsotsi, chairman of the Eskom board, said while Westinghouse had withdrawn its application for an urgent interdict, the board was concerned about personal attacks by the media against Lesela which “continue with impunity”.

“The withdrawal clears Ms Lesela of any alleged wrongdoing. It dispels and brings to an end all the unfounded claims made against her by Westinghouse,” Tsotsi said.

Eskom said Westinghouse in its affidavit to the court accused Lesela of flouting corporate governance, dishonesty, theft, and corruption.

“Eskom filed its answering affidavit on September 1, 2014, in which it dispelled all of the allegations raised by Westinghouse in its application for an urgent interdict against it,” the utility said.

Eskom’s answering affidavit further clarified the process followed by the BTC in obtaining the approval of Brown.

Brown’s approval was required in terms of the Public Finance Management Act, before the appointment and announcement of the successful bidder.

The Eskom board welcomed the withdrawal of the interdict application, and requested the violation of Lesela’s constitutional rights to privacy, dignity, and the personal attacks by the media against her to cease.

Tsotsi said since Lesela’s appointment as chair of the BTC in April 2014, she had conducted herself with integrity and professionalism. SAPA

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