No plans to appoint Molefe elsewhere after Eskom axing

Brian Molefe
Picture: Alon Skuy / The Times

The decision to rescind Brian Molefe’s reappointment as Eskom chief executive was not a reflection of his capability‚ but there are no plans to reappoint him elsewhere in government‚ the inter-ministerial committee (IMC) set up to investigate his position has said.

The IMC‚ headed by Justice Minister Michael Masutha‚ announced that they had found the decision to reappoint Molefe earlier this month had been wrong‚ and this had been done without the approval of Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown.

Brown has directed the Eskom board to rescind the decision and notify Molefe.

She said an acting chief executive would be appointed in 48 hours.

Brown said she was returning to meet the board following the press conference to iron out the details of Molefe’s departure and could not comment on what sort of financial compensation he would be given‚ if any.

Molefe stepped down as Eskom chief executive in November following the release of the public protector’s state of capture report. He was sworn in as an ANC MP in February. He returned to Eskom in May‚ but his reinstatement was immediately challenged in court‚ by among others the EFF and DA.

Eskom admitted in court papers that Molefe had erroneously been allowed to take early retirement. His contract does not allow retirement before the age of 55. Molefe is 50.

The board had also admitted they had processed his pension under retrenchment provisions‚ and not retirement. When they realised the errors‚ the board attempted to correct them by rescinding his retirement.

Masutha said it was the view of the IMC that these errors could have been fixed administratively and it was in the best interests of good governance and the country that the decision to reinstate him be rescinded.

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said the decision taken by the board had done harm to the reputations of the company‚ the board and the minister and should not have been taken in the first instance.

But he said‚ it was no reflection on Molefe’s capability. “He still has an enormous contribution to make.” There were no plans to appoint him anywhere else, he said.

While the decision could impact ratings agencies‚ he believed “state-owned enterprises shouldn’t act correctly just to please ratings agencies” but because they were public assets.

He said South African SOEs had government guarantees exceeding R400-billion‚ with Eskom taking up R350-billion of this.

Brown, meanwhile, said the board’s performance would be adjudicated ahead of the Eskom annual meeting in three weeks’ time.

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