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Eskom was done with Molefe after he left - Ngubane

May 31 2017 12:12
Matthew le Cordeur

Cape Town – Eskom chairperson Ben Ngubane thought he was “done” with Brian Molefe when he left Eskom in November 2016, while Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown said her decision to allow his reinstatement was like sticking her nose “into a hornet’s nest”.

Molefe’s fate is set to be revealed on Wednesday, after an interministerial committee came to a consensus on the matter. Brown will inform the board before a public statement is made.

READ: Molefe to learn fate soon, as Zuma committee reaches consensus

This follows a decision announced by the African National Congress national executive council on Monday that Molefe should be removed from his role at Eskom.

Ngubane and Brown were addressing the National Council of Provinces select committee on communications and public enterprises on Wednesday.

“As far as we were concerned, he was out of our system,” Ngubane said in response to a question.

Regarding his appointment as  an MP, Ngubane said “it had nothing to do with us”.

“We were done with him,” he said.

Three months after his appointment to Parliament, Molefe was surprisingly reappointed as Eskom’s chief executive.

Molefe agreed to return to Eskom after Brown discovered he had been granted a R30m early pension payout by Eskom, which she refused to condone.

She asked the board to find another solution, and his reinstatement was the result of this. Brown said this was a better value proposition for the South African fiscus.

The decision by the Eskom board to bring him back to solve this crisis has resulted in legal action, as well as inquiries by Parliament and the Department of Public Enterprises into the matter.

If Molefe's job is not reversed by the minister, a Pretoria high court that is hearing the matter on June 6 and 7 will have to decide the matter.

Based on legal opinion that Eskom received, Ngubane warned that should Molefe’s appointment be rescinded, he could receive more money for his five years’ service contract being cut short if he approaches a labour court. “That will be much higher than R30m,” he said.

Brown told Parliament that she “poked” her “nose into a hornet’s nest” at Eskom when she instructed the board to reconsider its proposed pension payout.

“To say that the consequences of this decision unleashed a storm is to grossly understate the effect,” she said. “Within moments of publication of the announcement by Eskom chairperson Ben Ngubane that Mr Molefe was to return as Eskom’s group chief executive, the issue was thrust to the centre of societal and political contestation.

“Old allegations have resurfaced and new ones have been brought to light. These include serious allegations – that are regularly reported, and widely perceived, as fact.

“Do I regret interfering in the proposed Molefe pension payout? Well, I can’t say I enjoy having my integrity questioned. But, in the end, if our state-owned companies are to perform to their true potential at the vanguard of the developmental and transformative state, we must clear the fog of allegations of impropriety that envelop them – one way or the other.

“I therefore pay tribute to Members of Parliament, the media (of course we’d like them to be more balanced) and members of the public who have invested time in investigating and reporting these matters, and I encourage others to contribute to setting things straight.”

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