Battleground Parliament: Lynne Brown washes hands of Molefe’s Second Coming

The trail of suspicion over Eskom CEO Brian Molefe nearly walking away with R30m after 22 months of a five-year contract now leads directly to Eskom board chairman, wily old Zuptoid, Ben Ngubane’s door. Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown had neither the hiring and firing line function nor knowledge of his retirement package, it emerges. The Eskom board let her think Molefe simply resigned last November. Brown assertively intervened upon reading in the media of his hefty retirement package – a full five months later. She was then presented with an array of retirement rescindment options. Yesterday, Pravin Gordhan called for the Eskom board to resign. He said the fiasco was part of a conspiracy to capture Eskom for the purposes or benefit of the few, “That is the reality. Let us not play around with technical questions”. Court judgments and an increasing number of bureaucrats were exposing a total disregard for the public in the open abuse of state resources. Regardless of how many damning reports anyone produced, they knew they were protected. “The question is by whom, and at what cost and how will history record your role ultimately,” Gordhan told them. – Chris Bateman

Cartoonist Zapiro’s take on Eskom CEO Brian Molefe’s redeployment. More of his magic available at

By Lameez Omarjee, Fin24

Johannesburg – Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown said she was not party to Brian Molefe’s reinstatement at Eskom and only worked in the best interests of the country. 

This is according to the affidavit Brown filed to the North Gauteng High Court on Monday. In the papers, Brown explained that she had no part in Eskom’s decision to reappoint Molefe as chief executive officer at Eskom.

“I was not party to the reinstatement agreement,” Brown said in the concluding remarks of the affidavit.

Public Enterprises minister Lynne Brown

Brown also highlighted that when Molefe submitted his resignation on November 11, 2016, she viewed it as a resignation. “I was not aware of the fact that Molefe had in fact applied for early retirement and that Eskom had on November 11 2016 accepted such an application,” she said.

“I was under the impression that this was a case of unilateral resignation and nothing more.”

The early retirement agreement reached between Molefe and Eskom was to be interpreted within the rules of Eskom’s Pension Fund. Brown reiterated that she was not party to such an early retirement agreement.

She said she was not aware of the correspondence between Molefe and the board chairperson Ben Ngubane, where he requested approval for early retirement.

Eskom failed to inform Brown of the decision to approve Molefe’s application for early retirement in its future correspondence with the minister.

“I was therefore surprised on Sunday April 16 2017 to read the article entitled Brian Molefe scores a R30 million payout from Eskom,” said Brown. Thereafter Brown requested a meeting with the Eskom board on April 19, to understand the terms of Molefe’s departure.

“To my mind his resignation was just that. I also did not understand why, or on what basis, he would participate in proceeds from Eskom’s pension fund.” Brown only became aware of the pension package given to Molefe at the meeting.

“I indicated that I was unhappy with this proposal and felt it could not be justified,” she said. Brown asked Eskom to consider rescinding the early retirement agreement and to consider a less expensive package for Molefe.

Eskom had four options

Eskom returned to Brown with four options.

The first was a consensual rescission of the early retirement agreement. In this case Molefe would return as chief executive and pay back any money received in terms of his early retirement agreement. Eskom elected to take this option.

A second option was a non-consensual rescission of the early retirement agreement. A further option was to have Molefe notified that his early retirement was rescinded, and he would be given the option to resign from the company and then receive benefits of an ordinary retirement.

The final option was a payment in settlement of a dispute.

Read also: Somersaults at Megawatt Park: Eskom’s Molefe says, “I was on unpaid leave”

Out of courtesy, Eskom sent a letter requesting approval from the minister for Molefe’s reinstatement. But Brown pointed out that according to memoranda of incorporation (MOI), the first concluded in July 2014 and the second in July 2016, she was not required to be party to an employment agreement of Eskom’s CEO. The MOI also does not give Brown the power to remove the CEO.

“I did not in any way act unreasonably when I learnt of the true facts, namely that Mr Molefe had not resigned unilaterally but rather that he had unbeknown to me entered into early retirement with Eskom,” said Brown.

She added that in not supporting the R30m pension payout to Molefe, and after requesting the board to rescind the decision, she was acting in the best interests of the country. 

Lynne Brown’s affidavit on Brian Molefe’s reinstatement


Gordhan launches scathing attack on Eskom

By Matthew le Cordeur and Lameez Omarjee, Fin24

Cape Town – In an unprecedented move on Tuesday, former finance minister Pravin Gordhan accused Eskom of state capture while he climbed into Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown and Eskom chairperson Ben Ngubane.

Gordhan confirmed to Fin24 that he is now a permanent member of the portfolio committee on public enterprises, and that this was his maiden appearance.

He arrived late, making a surprise appearance into a briefing where the Parliamentary oversight committee questioned Brown and the Eskom board over the reinstatement of Brian Molefe as chief executive.

Former finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, gestures as he speaks during a news conference ahead of his mid-term budget speech in Cape Town, South Africa, on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

“You are part of a conspiracy to capture Eskom for the purposes or benefit of the few. That is the reality. Let us not play around with technical questions. That’s the reality,” Gordhan charged.

He said the South African public is worried that the country is reaching a stage in managing governance where “a significant number of people in bureaucracy and elsewhere and the courts” are taking a view which says: “‘I don’t care. I don’t care if you know what I do. I don’t care if you know that public resources are going elsewhere. I don’t care how many reports the Public Protector or anybody else provides, because I am protected.’

“The question is by whom, and at what cost and how will history record your role ultimately,” said Gordhan.

He lashed out at Eskom management, saying this is the critical institution in the South African economy, “as we learnt in 2010 and there above [further on]”.

“When Eskom doesn’t work, it has a massive impact on economic growth, it has a massive impact on job creation in SA, it has a massive impact on enterprises in SA. Today I don’t think we’ll recover from that.”

Referring to Molefe’s reappointment, he said: “This is not just one isolated incident of hiring, firing, retiring, or not retiring or maternity leave or otherwise. This is part of a pattern.”

Gordhan said the board is putting on a straight face, believing that whatever is being put out in the public domain will not be challenged. They are doing so with “extreme arrogance”, regardless of the fact that they serve a public institution.

Secondly, Gordhan highlighted that state-owned enterprises play a crucial role in the development of the state. “But we are busy at all levels, parcelling out state assets, resources and procurements to a handful of beneficiaries,” he said. “If we think we are bluffing the public, we have got a thing coming.”

‘Eskom shouldn’t be a personal toy’

Gordhan also requested the board to provide the documents from the meetings where decisions were taken to let Molefe go, and then to rehire him again. These documents are necessary for legal advisers of Parliament to do their job well, he added.

Additionally, Gordhan requested the audio tapes from these meetings for Parliament’s legal advisers to verify that they match the written minutes of the meetings. “Let’s have transparency,” Gordhan said.

Gordhan also asked Brown why there had been no mitigation on the R30m to be paid to Molefe. “Why not mitigate on the matter? Why just give in to somebody’s demands?”

Gordhan suggested that the full parliamentary inquiry be backed with a forensic audit on how decisions are taken at Eskom. “[Eskom is] far too an important entity to become a personal toy for a few individuals.”

Finally, Gordhan called for the board to resign. ‘[The board] has let South Africa down more often than not. I don’t think the board will serve South Africa well.”


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