EDITORIAL: Mad, madder, Molefe

2017-05-28 05:58

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That is the extent of the excuse for Brian Molefe’s R30.1m pension payout when he resigned/retired from Eskom last year after one and a half years – a term now subject to four potential investigations.

Not “oops, that’s too much”, but “oops, we got caught”. No one denies the windfall was unlawful.

Whether he resigned or retired is a technicality and too much is made of the semantics.

Creatively interpreting the Eskom pension fund rules was the means, not the end.

On the technicalities, Molefe may very well still get booted out without his millions. In the meantime, we can only hope the Eskom board is lying.

Hopefully, they are not so incompetent that they had no idea early retirement was not an option for the then 49-year-old Molefe.

What gets lost in the battle is the thing that made the pension so shocking to begin with: R30.1m. If Molefe had not stepped down and served the five years of his contract, would this be okay?

The man was getting a R7.7m salary, an arguably undeserved bonus for being around when load shedding ended – and a guarantee that his pension would be based on a fictitious decade on the job.

Shareholders in private companies have started kicking hard against this kind of profligacy.

So where is Eskom’s shareholder?

The most incredible thing about this debacle is that Minister Lynne Brown, who is in effect our eyes and ears on Eskom and all state-owned enterprises (SOEs), seemingly knew nothing. She was completely ignorant about the terms of Molefe’s departure last year.

As far as she knew, he simply resigned and she relied on the Sunday Times to find out about the golden handshake.

When she complained, the Eskom board came back with Molefe’s reinstatement as a fait accompli.

Telling her was described as a courtesy, according to the minister’s own affidavit this week.

Even Brown is not sure if this was legal and she is leaving it up to the courts to decide. It is clear by now that Eskom is another site of the kleptocracy campaign led by Jacob Zuma and his cronies.

It is therefore critical that the minister overseeing should not be a “sleepist” minister. Brown needs to play a far more vigilant role in the SOEs and stop pleading ignorance every time wrongdoing is exposed in these institutions.

Read more on:    brian molefe

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