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JOHANNESBURG — By resigning from the Eskom board, one of Cyril Ramaphosa’s first moves as President, Imperial CEO Mark Lamberti has made life easier for Public Enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan. Following the Chowan v Associated Motor Holdings and others judgment, a social media frenzy took place, with some informed and not so informed comments. Gordhan had said his department would analyse the judgement and make a call in due time, but it looks like Lamberti beat them to it saying: ““This decision is motivated by my fiduciary duty to Eskom and my consistent and proven record of acting insofar as possible in the best interests of South Africa.” My colleague Felicity Duncan unpacked the 30-page document saying, “having lived and worked in America for 10 years, saying that if this was an American company, heads would roll at the management level and there would be a massive financial settlement in favour of the plaintiff, Adila Chowan.” Lamberti did write an open letter to Imperial staff to give his version of events. And while there are some lingering unanswered questions, what we do know is Lamberti will no longer be involved in helping turn Eskom around. – Stuart Lowman
Media statement by the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan:
On Friday evening, 06 April 2018, Mr Mark Lamberti resigned as a Director from the Eskom board. His resignation was duly accepted.
“This decision is motivated by my fiduciary duty to Eskom and my consistent and proven record of acting insofar as possible in the best interests of South Africa,” Mr Lamberti stated in his resignation letter, which is posted below.
He cited the High Court judgment of 23 March 2018 in the matter of J Chowan v Associated Motor Holdings (Pty) Ltd and Others, as the reason for his resignation. In representations to the Eskom board, Mr Lamberti maintained that “while mistakes were made and there are important lessons to be learnt, there were no findings in the judgment of race or gender discrimination against AMH (Associated Motor Holdings), Imperial or myself.”
“Despite this, there has been a mainstream and social media frenzy of generally inaccurate commentary. This is being fuelled by a political agenda and legally incorrect interpretations of the judgment, which have culminated inter alia in the most vitriolic defamation of my person. The most telling aspect of this is the call for the Minister and indeed the President to remove me from the Eskom board,” the letter stated.
Mr Lamberti must be commended for taking the difficult decision to put the interests of Eskom, the board and the country above all else.
Mr Lamberti has stated that he cannot, in good conscience, accept any compensation from Eskom and will return the fees paid to him as most of the Eskom board’s work to date has been preparatory.
Imperial CEO resigns from Eskom board after court ruling
Lamberti, a veteran of the South African business community, was appointed to the Eskom board by President Cyril Ramaphosa as part of a push to reform state companies after years of corruption allegations under Jacob Zuma.
In a letter addressed to Pravin Gordhan, minister of public enterprises, Lamberti said “while mistakes were made,” there had been no findings in the judgment of race or gender discrimination against him.
“Despite this, there has been a mainstream and social media frenzy of generally inaccurate commentary,” he said. “This is being fueled by a political agenda and legally incorrect interpretations of the judgment, which have culminated inter alia in the most vitriolic defamation of my person.”
A spokesperson in Gordhan’s office said Saturday the minister didn’t try to persuade Lamberti to stay and the resignation had been accepted.
Lamberti last week apologised for comments made to former employee Adila Chowan after a court found him guilty of impairing her dignity when he referred to her as “female employment-equity” in front of fellow managers. Lamberti said he “apologises unreservedly” for the remarks to Chowan, an Asian woman.
Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.