Embattled Eskom CEO Brian Molefe has launched an urgent case with the South African Labour Court to stop the Eskom board from firing him, saying that there is no legal basis for the move – and only the minister can fire him.
The documents were submitted over the weekend, confirmed by Public Enterprises minister Lynne Brown and the Eskom board itself.
Molefe was effectively ‘fired’ last week after the Eskom board and Brown announced that his contract as CEO would be rescinded.
The Eskom exec has been the centre of controversy after he returned to work, having resigned in November 2016. His return was a result of a failed R30 million ‘retirement package’ negotiation, which it was found he did not qualify for.
It was only revealed in April 2017 that Molefe had not resigned as he and Eskom had stated in 2016, but had rather applied for early retirement. When the retirement could not be processed, as Molefe is too young to meet the requirements, the Eskom board walked back on the cancelling of his contract, and reinstated him as CEO.
However, political parties, including the ANC itself would have none of it, calling the whole situation an embarrassment and a sham.
In his papers fighting for his right to return as Eskom CEO, Molefe argued that under the Labour Relations Act, and in his contract terms, a summary dismissal cannot be enacted on him, and that there was no legal basis for such an action.
“There is no legal basis for my dismissal premised on my conduct, capacity or operational requirements,” Molefe said.
“Political considerations motivated my dismissal which do not amount to lawful grounds.”
“In entering the reinstatement agreement, Eskom elected to honour my March 2016 contract of employment and in so doing divested any right to dismiss me.”
Molefe argued that only the minister, not the board, has power to remove him as CEO, as per his contract, and therefore his dismissal by the board is unlawful and unfair.’
The Eskom board said that it was in the process of compiling its own reply to the legal bid.