Brian ‘Papa’ Molefe serves court papers, will fight removal as Eskom CEO

By Liesl Peyper

Cape Town – Former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe, whose appointment was rescinded on Friday, is challenging the Eskom board’s decision to remove him and served labour court papers on both the power utility’s board and Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown.

Brian Molefe, chief executive officer of Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., speaks during an interview at the company’s headquarters at Megawatt Park in Sandton, near Johannesburg. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Brown’s spokesperson Colin Cruywagen confirmed to Fin24 on Sunday that the Minister’s office indeed received the papers and that her legal team is studying the documents.

Khulani Qoma, spokesperson of the Eskom board, also confirmed receipt of Molefe’s challenge.

“He is challenging his dismissal,” Qoma said, “and our lawyers are currently poring over it and will soon file a response.”

At the time of publication, Molefe did not respond to requests for comment.

On Friday, Eskom announced that Molefe is no longer the group chief executive of Eskom and that he will also no longer serve as a director on the board of Eskom.

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 followed. Brown at the time said Molefe’s reappointment was a better value proposition for the South African fiscus.

However, following a backlash from the ANC, the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters, an inter-ministerial committee concluded that Brown should order the Eskom board to rescind Molefe’s reappointment.

An Eskom sign stands outside the headquarters for Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., South Africa’s state-owned electricity utility at Megawatt Park in Sandton, near Johannesburg, South Africa. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

When Brown ordered the Eskom board to rescind the Molefe’s reappointment, she also asked it to provide her with two names from the Eskom executive to become acting chief executive.

The Eskom board on Friday morning executed Brown’s directive.

“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in the letter dated 31 May 2017, it was resolved that the resolution of the Board of Directors taken on 02 May 2017 is rescinded,” said Eskom in a statement.

“Furthermore, it was resolved that the reinstatement agreement concluded between Mr. Molefe and Eskom on 11 May 2017 be rescinded.”

The legal bid by the DA and EFF to have Molefe’s reappointment overturned was set to be heard in the North Gauteng High Court on June 6 and 7.

Grilling in Parliament

On May 23, A Parliament’s portfolio committee on public enterprises grilled Brown and the Eskom board over the reinstatement of Brian Molefe as chief executive. Committee chairperson Zukiswa Rantho said there seems to be a breakdown between the Public Enterprise Ministry and the board and that the committee viewed Molefe’s reappointment as illegal.

The DA subsequently demanded an “urgent full scale” Parliamentary inquiry into Eskom.

“Only a full-scale Parliamentary inquiry has the capacity to get to the bottom of the rot,” said Natasha Mazzone, DA spokesperson on public enterprises. – Fin24


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