Econ Oil Managing Director Nothemba Mlonzi.
Econ Oil Managing Director Nothemba Mlonzi.

Econ Oil not under investigation

By Thabo Makwakwa Time of article published Jul 7, 2021

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Durban: Econ Oil & Energy said it was vindicated to learn that Eskom chief executive officer Andre De Ruyter continued presiding in Eskom meetings, which awarded contracts to Econ Oil, despite his initial claims of corruption levelled at the company.

The oil supplier has been in court with Eskom, over the R8 billion tender contract which was cancelled by Eskom, at the instruction of De Ruyter, who had alleged there were irregularities and claimed that Econ had influenced the utility’s officials to act in Econ’s favour.

Econ, in a statement issued on Monday, rubbished reports that it was under investigation, stating that no court was in the process of hearing any matter relating to allegations of corruption against the company.

“The said approval for the award of contract to Econ Oil by De Ruyter, alleged to have taken place in April 2020, happened months after the false allegations of corruption were peddled against our company,” read the statement by Econ Oil.

Reflecting on the recent court judgment, which ruled in favour of Eskom, the oil supplier said that “the judgment is clear that the initial allegations – of corruption, collusion, fraud, and overcharging by Eskom – were not relied upon by the court.”

“Claims that ’Eskom should not have done business with Econ Oil’ is a new narrative, peddled by those who seek to cause harm to our business and its reputation. The false narrative cherry-picked and misdirected.”

It said that when Eskom applied to have the advocate Cassim report admitted as evidence in court, the court rejected the application, citing that the report had no legal bearing against Econ Oil.

“Judge Bashier Vally said that the value of the report to the Eskom-Econ case was, at best, peripheral. He further said that the findings have no bearing on the outcome of the case, and it is trite that those findings are no more than his opinions,” continued Econ Oil in the statement.

Eskom defended its decision to continue doing business with Econ Oil and stated its management acted “entirely appropriately and lawfully”.

It said the procurement process had to be extended because of extraordinary delays in convening the Supplier Review Committee to consider the Econ Oil matter.

“At the date of the meeting, held on April 24, 2020, the Supplier Review Committee, chaired by the former Solly Tshitangano, had not yet met to deliberate on the status of Econ Oil, and other suppliers in a similar position. Furthermore, the requisite court application, to cancel the award of the tender, had not yet been launched. Because of the requirements of section 217 of the Constitution, excluding any bidder from a procurement process, particularly a contract of only a three-month duration, would violate requirements for the due administrative process to be followed,” said Eskom in a statement.

Eskom’s media desk said: “Having followed a competitive bidding process for a short-term supply contract, there was no lawful reason, extant at the time, to exclude any bidder. Eskom management, therefore, acted entirely appropriately and lawfully.”

The Daily News

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