Public Enterprises minister Lynne Brown has ordered Eskom to rescind the reappointment of Brian Molefe as the power utility’s chief executive.
This follows weeks of backlash and outrage from several sectors, including the ANC itself, over the Eskom board’s weak reasoning and excuses for bringing Molefe back into the fold.
The mess happened when Brown rejected a R30 million payment to be made to Molefe, following his resignation from Eskom in November 2016.
There was confusion around the payment, as Molefe had resigned, and was widely seen as a golden handshake.
Eskom’s story around the payment changed rapidly in a matter of days, from the group claiming Molefe had in fact been retrenched, to it being revealed that the former CEO had actually applied for early retirement.
In front of the portfolio committee on public enterprises, Brown and the Eskom board repeated affidavits that had been submitted in a court case launched by the DA over the matter, saying that Molefe had retired, but was too young to do so.
After an agreement could not be reached with Molefe, the board decided to rescind his retirement, and reinstate his contract, making him CEO again. The five months he was out of the job would be explained away as him being on ‘unpaid leave’.
Parliament, including ANC MPs (of which Molefe served as one for three months) were having none of it, and the order from Luthuli House was that Molefe should be removed.
Following a resolution from the ANC NEC this past weekend, and an inter-ministerial committee appointed by president Jacob Zuma having several discussions about Molefe’s reappointment, it was decided that Eskom should be ordered to rescind Molefe’s contract.
Speaking at a press briefing on Wednesday, finance minister Malusi Gigaba said that the decision to reappoint Molefe has caused Eskom, the government and all involved a lot of reputational damage.
He said that the decision should not have been taken at all, and that the Eskom board should have worked around the contract mess through other avenues.