While five state-owned enterprises were named in the report – Eskom, Transnet, Denel, SAA and SABC – Madonsela was only able to make findings on Eskom as a result of running out of time and money. The report states that Gupta-owned mining company Tegeta has been supplying coal to Eskom at almost double the amount it is usually sold for. The six-month contract at one plant is worth R700 million, and contravenes the Eskom board’s duty to prevent fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
The report also found that the board of Eskom appears to have been improperly appointed as a result of the appointment process lacking good corporate governance standards.
While the report paints a picture that there’s something rotten in the state-owned enterprises, the legalities of doing anything about it are complicated. Madonsela recommended that President Zuma appoint a commission of inquiry within 30 days, which would be headed by a single judge, who must be appointed by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. This judge will then put together his/her own team for the commission.
The commission will have six months to submit its findings and recommendations to the president, and will be endowed with all the powers of evidence collection equal to, or greater than, that of the Public Protector. Following this, the President will have two weeks to tell Parliament how he will implement the recommendations made by the commission.
However, based on the President’s past ability to flout the Public Protector’s recommendations, the country is not holding its breath that justice will be served in this case. Instead, opposition parties, civil society groups, religious leaders, prominent businesspeople and students united to call for him to step down.
At a “Save South Africa” demonstration in Pretoria, every political, religious and social demographic was represented in the calls for a change of leadership. The Pretoria demonstration was originally intended to coincide with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s appearance in court to face charges of fraud, but these were dropped a few days earlier by the state prosecutor, who admitted he had no evidence to back them up. Conveniently, the President was on a trip to Zimbabwe during that time.
Even ANC members have added their voices to the movement, with stalwarts publicly stating they have lost their faith in the President. Cheryl Carolus, for example, said that Zuma has consistently been mired “not only in controversies, but some of the most spectacular violations of the highest laws of our land, which is just not right. We have made it clear to President Zuma that he is not capable of leading either the ANC or our country. So we strongly believe that President Zuma must step aside.”
The chances of the President heeding the calls to hand the position over to someone else are slim to none, according to political analysts. However, the fact that by his very polarizing actions he has succeeded in uniting the country against him offers a spark of hope for a brighter political – and possibly economic – future for the country.