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Delay in Brian Molefe's court application

Jun 05 2017 17:34
Yolandi Groenewald

Johannesburg - Former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe’s urgent labour court application, challenging his axing from the parastatal, will now only be heard on Tuesday at the soonest.

This is after Molefe scheduled it for Monday afternoon. The registrar of the court commented that the hearing had not been prior arranged with the court.

With more parties set to join the application, it could be postponed to much later in the week.

Molefe filed an urgent application over the weekend, challenging the legality of the Eskom board's decision to remove him. He served court papers on both the power utility's board and Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown. 

READ: Brian Molefe is no longer the CE of Eskom 

In court papers Molefe argued that his dismissal was substantially unfair. He said the board had no power to remove him from the position of CEO and that only Brown could do so. Molefe also noted that his axing was also not executed because of reasons that related to his conduct‚ capacity or operational requirements and he accused the board of acting in breach of his contract of employment in that it purported to dismiss him in circumstances where it did not have the power to do so.

“In addition‚ no fair procedure was followed before effecting my dismissal. This was plainly in breach of my employment contract,” Molefe argued.

Khulani Qoma, spokesperson of the Eskom board, said on Monday that the board’s lawyers were still drafting a response to Molefe’s challenge. He said the board didn’t expect court proceedings to commence until at least Tuesday.

"He is challenging his dismissal," Qoma said, "Our guys are finalising the papers and we certainly will file relative to the timetable.” The Eskom board officially sacked Molefe on Friday, just three weeks after he was reappointed to the post.

READ: Brian Molefe challenges his removal as Eskom CEO

He stepped down as Eskom CEO last year after his improper relationship with the controversial Gupta-family came to light in the Public Protector’s State of Capture report. Molefe agreed to return to Eskom after Brown discovered he had been granted a R30m early pension payout, which she refused to condone.

At the time Brown commented that Molefe's reappointment was a better value proposition for the South African fiscus. Molefe then claimed he’d been on unpaid leave the entire term, even while being sworn in as an ANC MP.

A public outcry forced the inter-ministerial committee to rescind Molefe's reappointment. Parliament's portfolio committee on public enterprises also grilled Brown and the Eskom board over Molefe’s reinstatement. Committee chairperson Zukiswa Rantho said at the time that the committee viewed Molefe's reappointment as illegal. 

In a statement on Friday Eskom said: "In giving effect to and on the basis of the Minister’s directive contained in the letter dated 31 May 2017, it was resolved that the resolution of the Board of Directors taken on 02 May 2017 is rescinded. Furthermore, it was resolved that the reinstatement agreement concluded between Mr. Molefe and Eskom on 11 May 2017 be rescinded."

Molefe then filed his urgent application on Saturday.

READ:Whatever happens, happens - Brian Molefe on his future as Eskom CEO

The DA said it would intervene in the Labour Court proceedings at once. Its joint legal bid with the EFF to have Molefe's reappointment overturned was set to be heard in the North Gauteng High Court on June 6 and 7. The party said its application to review Molefe’s reappointment would proceed, even if the former Eskom CEO’s latest Labour Court urgent application succeeded.

“We view Mr Molefe’s urgent Labour Court action as nothing more than desperation,” the party said. “No doubt Mr Molefe’s cronies at Saxonwold were very unhappy that their man-in-Eskom is on his way out.”

Molefe did not respond to requests for comment. 

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