The South African Parliament has confirmed that former Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe will be sworn in as a member of parliament for the North West ANC.
“Parliament wishes to acknowledge the nomination of Mr Brian Molefe to fill a vacancy on the North west list of ANC members of Parliament, which is depleted. Presiding Officers of Parliament will determine a date for swearing him in as a Member of Parliament,” Parliament said.
Molefe who was at first seen as the key player in bringing Eskom back in line, has become a controversial figure after being implicated in the wider Gupta state capture scandal.
The executive resigned as CEO of Eskom at the end of 2016 following the release of the Public Protector’s State Capture report, in which he was implicated as having a close relationship with the Gupta family.
The report contained phone call records, showing that Molefe and the Gupta brothers had made over 44 phone calls to each other in a small window of time.
This was over and above allegations contained in the report that the Gupta family had received preferential treatment by Eskom, and were even ‘bailed out’ by the power utility, where Eskom funded the family’s acquisition of Optimum coal mines.
It has been speculated that Molefe is being primed to replaced finance minister Pravin Gordhan in an imminent cabinet reshuffle.
Analysts have been expecting a reshuffle for a number of months, but understood that the process had been delayed because president Jacob Zuma wanted Molefe to move into a more prominent position – however he needed to be elected as an MP first.
According to research analysts at Nomura, while the baseline view is that it is unlikely that finance minister Pravin Gordhan will be booted (which would have disastrous consequences for the economy), there is a higher chance that deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas will get the chop.
If Molefe is appointed as deputy finance minister, he will have control over the Public Investment Corporation, which would be enough for president Zuma to execute his various strategies, while not upsetting the economy too much, Nomura said.