When is a resignation not a resignation? When the letter was penned by Brian Molefe and it was actually a request for early retirement.
Parliament’s inquiry into Eskom was seized with two main questions as former chief executive Molefe appeared before it: was Molefe a permanent employee and did he resign or take early retirement?
Molefe was seconded from Transnet to Eskom in April 2015. In October, he was officially appointed chief executive.
Molefe said that in October he received letters from both Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown and Eskom board chairman Ben Ngubane confirming his appointment. Neither had any limit on the period of employment.
Also in October, he signed his executive employment contract which stated that it would continue for an indefinite period, and he was signed up to the Eskom pension fund.
Earlier in the day, former Eskom board member Venete Klein testified that the contract had erroneously stated that it was fixed-term, but did not contain a time frame.
In November, Brown informed Ngubane of a cabinet decision to employ parastatal executives on five-year contracts.
On November 9, Ngubane advised Molefe of this and later wrote to the minister setting out what would happen at the end of that contract – he would be allowed to retire as if he were aged 63, and Eskom would cover the pension fund penalties associated with this.
This contract is at the centre of the controversy over Molefe’s pension. The Eskom pension fund says he should never have been on the fund in the first place.
Molefe, however, disputed reports that he had received a R30-million pension on retiring.
While this was the total amount due to him, he said he had received only about R7-million of this, R4.3-million of which was his Transnet pension which he transferred.
The money and its return is now the subject of court processes after Molefe was made to revoke his retirement, returned to Eskom and was then removed again.
Molefe also said former public protector Thuli Madonsela had not asked him about his phone records and did not give enough information for him to respond.
He addressed Madonsela’s notes in her State of Capture report which places him in Saxonwold 19 times based on his phone records.
“The public protector fails to provide any other details about the phon