Molefe innocent until proven guilty - Lynne Brown

2017-05-12 17:37
Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown. (News24)

Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown. (News24)

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WATCH: Tegeta, tears and triumphs - Brian Molefe's full circle

2017-05-12 12:26

MP Brian Molefe is set to return to Eskom as its chief executive on Monday, as the board has rescinded his application for early retirement - sparking outrage from opposition parties and even members within the ANC. Watch Molefe's scandal-ridden full circle...WATCH

Cape Town - Brian Molefe must be considered innocent until proven guilty, Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown reiterated as she defended Molefe's reinstatement as Eskom CEO.

On Friday it emerged that Molefe resigned as ANC MP to return to the post he left in November 2016 after he was linked to President Jacob Zuma's controversial friends in the business world, the Guptas. Molefe then said he will leave Eskom in “the interests of the company and good corporate governance".

Asked about this statement, Brown said at a press conference at Parliament she would not know what Molefe was thinking at the time.

The news of Molefe's reinstatement was met with an outcry, with even the ANC weighing in with a strongly worded statement condemning the "unfortunate and reckless" move. When pressed on the view of the party on whose NEC she sits, Brown didn't want to respond because she didn't want to pre-empt the meeting with the ANC which will follow.

 "I have never said that I do not understand the outrage. I understand it and that is why I am sitting before you today," Brown said.

She explained that after she declined the R30m pension payout Eskom's board proposed to pay Molefe, the board entered into consultations with Molefe.

"After considering various options, the Board proposed that Mr Molefe returns all monies received on his departure from Eskom on 1 January, 2017 and is reinstated as Group Chief Executive with immediate effect," she said.  

"In terms of the Board’s proposal, Mr Molefe agreed to serve out the remainder of his original contract and to reconsider the terms of his contract that resulted in the previous pension arrangement."  

"I believe that Eskom will benefit from the return to the helm of the man primarily responsible for the company’s turnaround in 2015/2016, and that the Board's proposal ultimately represents a significantly better value proposition to the South African fiscus than the previous pension proposal."

Investigations

"I informed the Board I was satisfied with its re-evaluation process and recognised the merit in its proposal – on the proviso of its legality."

Molefe will serve out the remaining two and a half years of his original contract with Eskom. When this term expires, he will get the market-related pension. She said the figure of the R30m payout was reached in terms of the provisions of Eskom's pension fund, governed by the Pensions Fund Act.

Brown said there wasn't another solution, other than paying the R30m, which she feels is unaffordable, or going to court. She felt reappointing Molefe was the most cost-effective option.

"I would like to reiterate my call for a decisive investigation into allegations of maladministration raised in various reports, including the former Public Protector's State of Capture report. Clouds of unproven allegations and counter-allegations are doing State Owned Companies and our country a great disservice," she said.

She said Molefe hasn't been found guilty of anything, much like herself, who was also mentioned in the State of Capture report.

"The cloud we have [over] the SOE's is the belief that they are captured, captured by the Guptas," Brown said, adding she wants this cloud cleared up.

She said that there has been a number of investigations into the Tageta deal, and that she hopes the Treasury's current investigation "will put a lid on it".

Brown also said the Eskom board briefed her on the status of the investigation into allegations of impropriety regarding Eskom's acting CEO, Matshela Koko.

"The board appointed a firm of attorneys to conduct the probe independently. The appointed firm has requested more time to complete its work. The board is of the view that this extra time should be granted."

Koko decided to take leave until the investigation is completed in June, and Brown supports this decision.  

"I would like to assure South Africans that the final investigative report will be transparently handled, and firm action will be taken against Mr Koko should evidence of wrongdoing be discovered."

Read more on:    anc  |  eskom  |  brian molefe  |  lynne brown

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