ANC tells Lynne Brown: Dissolve Eskom board

2017-05-14 06:24
Lynne Brown

Lynne Brown

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Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has been summoned to Luthuli House tomorrow, where she will be told to rescind the rehiring of Brian Molefe as Eskom chief executive officer or to dissolve the power utility’s board.

As anger mounted over Molefe’s surprise return to Eskom after a five-month absence, the governing party described the decision as “an insult to the ANC” while its ally the SA Communist Party (SACP) said it was proof of “structures gone rogue”.

“We are embarrassed by the comments of the minister, her embracing of what is immoral and what is an illegal decision by the board. We are meeting her on Monday and the only moral thing we expect from the shareholder rep is to rescind her decision or to dissolve the board,” the ANC’s Zizi Kodwa told City Press yesterday.

News broke on Friday that Molefe had been reinstated to his position. Molefe resigned last year following the release of the Public Protector’s State of Capture report, which laid bare his close ties to the controversial Gupta family, some of whose members are also close friends of President Jacob Zuma.

At the time Molefe said that he had made the decision to leave Eskom in the “interests of good corporate ­governance”.

In the wake of his shock reappointment, Eskom is now altogether denying that he had resigned, saying instead that he had opted for an “early retirement”. This is despite an official statement by Brown in November last year which noted his resignation.

Brown’s spokesperson, Colin Cruywagen, would not comment on whether or not Molefe had resigned or taken an early retirement. He said clarity could not be provided by the ministry as it was an “operational matter” which only Eskom could respond to.

Senior ANC member Enoch Godongwana joined the throng of voices condemning Molefe’s reinstatement, saying that it does not help in dispelling the view that the ANC is captured.

“It does say that whatever Brian had considered by leaving the institution [is now] being swept under the carpet. Because the State of Capture report points [to] a number of things which Brian has done which eventually forced him to leave. It might not necessarily have been an admission of guilt, but he has got a case to answer and he cannot be in the same institution when he is trying to answer that case,” Godongwana said.

“So clearly, in my view, it is an insult to the SA public and it is not going to help in ridding the ANC of the image that the ANC and its government are captured.”

Governance in state-owned enterprises

The senior leader also said that the move would raise the alarm with ratings agencies who recently downgraded the country to “junk” status, citing governance in state-owned enterprises as one of their concerns.

Meanwhile, opposition parties have wasted no time in taking the decision to the courts.

Economic Freedom Fighters attorney Thabo Kwinana told City Press that his clients had instructed him to seek an interdict against the return of Molefe to Eskom tomorrow, pending the outcome of further legal proceedings.

The party is seeking three final orders. The first is to declare Molefe not competent to be CEO of Eskom or of any other state-owned entity; the second is that the board of Eskom be dissolved for having made an irrational decision; and the last is to set aside the minister’s endorsement of the board’s decision.

When asked by reporters on Friday about the ethical aspect of Molefe’s return, Brown said: “I think the outrage is around one issue in particular; that is the State of Capture report. Now the State of Capture report makes one recommendation for further investigation.

“Until the president actually uses his prerogative and calls a commission of inquiry or there is another form of investigation, Molefe is not guilty of anything.”

The DA will also go to the courts this week. The chairperson of the DA’s federal council James Selfe said that the ­party’s lawyers had been instructed to draw up papers ­challenging Molefe’s reinstatement.

They will argue that the decision is irrational, given that he was implicated in the State of Capture report, and also that it is illegal.

New nuclear deal

Molefe has had to abandon his position as a member of Parliament. He was tipped to be the new minister of finance but that position ended up going to the now incumbent ­Malusi Gigaba.

It’s understood the members of the ANC’s top six and alliance partner the SACP vehemently opposed Zuma’s preference for Molefe in his Cabinet as finance minister.

Meanwhile, a new nuclear deal is on the cards following the scrapping of the previous procurement process by the Western Cape High Court.

Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi told reporters in ­Pretoria yesterday that her department would embark on a new process.

Kubayi said she would not appeal the Western Cape High Court judgment that set aside the previous nuclear deal.

She said she had consulted with the department’s legal team and officials before deciding to start the process from scratch.

“We don’t agree with that judgment 100%. We don’t agree with the view that we failed the nation. We believe that it was a correct process and we were on the right side.”

“Energy mix remains our policy as the department.

“Whether we do nuclear today or tomorrow, there’s a need for nuclear in the country. We will make sure that we diversify; have renewables, nuclear as currently we are running on fossil fuels [only],” Kubayi said.

Read more on:    anc  |  eskom  |  lynne brown

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