Brian Molefe asks for arbitration

Johannesburg - Former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe still has every intention to regain his spot at Eskom, but said he is willing to agree to arbitration.

Molefe started his campaign to challenge his dismissal at the Labour Court in Johannesburg on Thursday by asking the court to order that his case be taken to arbitration.

His legal team was immediately on the attack against Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown. 

Molefe’s counsel Noel Graves SC was still adamant that his dismissal from Eskom was unlawful, and he admonished the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters for interfering in the case. Political parties are interfering to prevent Molefe from having his day in court, Graves said.

On Tuesday Judge Connie Prinsloo ruled that the DA and the EFF could intervene in Molefe’s Labour Court application.

Molefe has taken Eskom to the Labour Court concerning his pension and appointment reversal, while the EFF and DA are continuing with their high court application regarding his reappointment, which has been postponed pending the Labour Court process. However, that court barred Molefe from returning to work pending the outcome of the hearings.

Molefe was sacked from Eskom at the beginning of the month following a brief return after serving as an African National Congress MP from February. He stepped down as Eskom CEO last year after his allegedly improper relationship with the controversial Gupta family came to light in the Public Protector’s State of Capture report.

But Molefe agreed to return to Eskom after Brown discovered he had been granted a R30m early pension payout, which she refused to condone.

At the time Brown commented that Molefe's reappointment was a better value proposition for the South African fiscus. Molefe then claimed he’d been on unpaid leave the entire term, even while being sworn in as an ANC MP.

A public outcry forced the inter-ministerial committee to rescind Molefe's reappointment. Parliament's portfolio committee on public enterprises also grilled Brown and the Eskom board over Molefe’s reinstatement.

The DA and EFF also then launched an application challenging his reinstatement. That application is due to be heard in the high court in Pretoria in August.

However‚ Brown instructed the Eskom board to rescind the decision to reappoint Molefe at the end of May.

Graves again argued in the Labour Court that if Molefe weren't reinstated‚ he would not be able to formally defend himself against the high court case launched by the DA.

But Prinsloo challenged the argument, asking whether the Labour Court was not a duplication of the high court process, and whether resources would not be wasted if the high court is able to deal with the matter in August.

“The history and background will be ventilated in the high court. The court will decide whether the reinstatement was a valid one‚ and whether the subsequent dismissal was unlawful,” Prinsloo said.

Graves said for practical purposes this would force Molefe in a forum with a number of parties‚ including trade unions and the former Public Protector. He called Brown “remarkable” for having adopted a position and then changing it in her affidavit.

He said that Molefe wanted the hearing, and they wanted the minister to be cross-examined in open court to challenge her extraordinary views. 

The case continues.

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