Molefe didn’t resign – he retired‚ says Eskom

Former Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe did not resign but asked for an early retirement package after less than two years at the helm of the power utility‚ a member of the power utility’s board has said.

He left Eskom in November last year following the release of the public protector’s State of Capture report. The report made various observations‚ not findings‚ and questioned his relationship with the controversial‚ politically linked Gupta family.

Brian Molefe

In his statement Molefe wrote: “I have‚ in the interests of good corporate governance‚ decided to leave my employ at Eskom from January 1 2017. I do so voluntarily; indeed I wish to pay tribute to the unfailing support I have had since I took up office from the chairperson‚ the board and with those with whom it has been my privilege to work.”

Eskom board spokesperson Khulani Qoma said: “He did not resign; he applied for an early retirement. That is why we were able to reinstate him because he asked for an early retirement and the [Eskom] board granted him that. Now‚ after going through various options following the [public enterprise] minister’s instruction to the board‚ those options were not mutually agreeable‚ then the board decided to withdraw its early retirement agreement.”

Last month‚ Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown objected to Eskom’s R30 million pension payout to Molefe‚ effectively blocking it. This decision is being seen as the catalyst for Eskom board’s decision to rescind Molefe’s early retirement application. Brown instructed the power utility’s board to talk to Molefe and report back to her with an “appropriate pension“.

Qoma said Eskom would benefit from Molefe’s presence because of his leadership abilities.

He added that Molefe will be reporting to Eskom’s headquarters on Monday on the same terms and conditions of his previous contract. His “new” contract will expire in 2020.

Qoma was quick to add that Molefe would not get a salary increase and that “whatever he has been paid through his payout‚ he is now [going] to pay back by the end of this year“.

Asked on what basis Molefe was being reinstated given that he was implicated in state capture report‚ Qoma said: “As a constitutional democracy‚ we should rely on credible outcomes to hang people … You don’t use an observation of a report that is not complete to say that definitely this person is corrupt.

“Molefe has been hanged and insulted on the basis on nothing else but allegations. He has said he is innocent and we believe him‚ until he is found guilty‚ if he is guilty.”

Political commentator Dumisani Hlophe warned of “governance issues” associated with Molefe’s return to Eskom as its chief executive.

Molefe left Eskom on “moral” grounds and “according to him‚ he left Eskom because his continued presence at Eskom undermined the value of that institution. He wasn’t going to be taken seriously by both internal and external stakeholders had he continued to be in that position‚ said Hlophe.

“But if he comes back on technical grounds‚ essentially‚ there’s a serious governance issue here in terms of the ethical perceptions of Eskom‚ organisational morality and the value associated with that particular institution. This decision [to reinstate Molefe] will put so much cloud on Eskom as it creates an impression that it is an institution of contestation.”

Molefe quit as a parliamentary backbencher on Friday. Shortly after his resignation from Eskom he became an MP for the ANC’s branch in the North West Province under interesting circumstances with three branches all claiming him as theirs.