Brown opens up on how Eskom kept her in the dark

Johannesburg - Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown said she was not party to Brian Molefe’s reinstatement at Eskom and only worked in the best interests of the country.

This is according to the affidavit Brown filed to the North Gauteng High Court on Monday. In the papers, Brown explained that she had no part in Eskom’s decision to reappoint Molefe as chief executive officer at Eskom.

“I was not party to the reinstatement agreement,” Brown said in the concluding remarks of the affidavit.

WATCH: All the drama over Molefe's Eskom comeback

Brown also highlighted that when Molefe submitted his resignation on November 11, 2016, she viewed it as a resignation. “I was not aware of the fact that Molefe had in fact applied for early retirement and that Eskom had on November 11 2016 accepted such an application,” she said.

“I was under the impression that this was a case of unilateral resignation and nothing more.”

The early retirement agreement reached between Molefe and Eskom was to be interpreted within the rules of Eskom’s Pension Fund. Brown reiterated that she was not party to such an early retirement agreement.

She said she was not aware of the correspondence between Molefe and the board chairperson Ben Ngubane, where he requested approval for early retirement.

Eskom failed to inform Brown of the decision to approve Molefe’s application for early retirement in its future correspondence with the minister.

“I was therefore surprised on Sunday April 16 2017 to read the article entitled Brian Molefe scores a R30 million payout from Eskom,” said Brown. Thereafter Brown requested a meeting with the Eskom board on April 19, to understand the terms of Molefe’s departure.

READ: Wait and see says Eskom about alleged R30m payout to Molefe

“To my mind his resignation was just that. I also did not understand why, or on what basis, he would participate in proceeds from Eskom’s pension fund.” Brown only became aware of the pension package given to Molefe at the meeting.

“I indicated that I was unhappy with this proposal and felt it could not be justified,” she said. Brown asked Eskom to consider rescinding the early retirement agreement and to consider a less expensive package for Molefe.

Eskom had four options

Eskom returned to Brown with four options.

The first was a consensual rescission of the early retirement agreement. In this case Molefe would return as chief executive and pay back any money received in terms of his early retirement agreement. Eskom elected to take this option.

A second option was a non-consensual rescission of the early retirement agreement. A further option was to have Molefe notified that his early retirement was rescinded, and he would be given the option to resign from the company and then receive benefits of an ordinary retirement.

The final option was a payment in settlement of a dispute.

ALSO READ: Molefe's Eskom return better than R30m payout – Brown

Out of courtesy, Eskom sent a letter requesting approval from the minister for Molefe’s reinstatement. But Brown pointed out that according to memoranda of incorporation (MOI), the first concluded in July 2014 and the second in July 2016, she was not required to be party to an employment agreement of Eskom’s CEO. The MOI also does not give Brown the power to remove the CEO.

“I did not in any way act unreasonably when I learnt of the true facts, namely that Mr Molefe had not resigned unilaterally but rather that he had unbeknown to me entered into early retirement with Eskom,” said Brown.

She added that in not supporting the R30m pension payout to Molefe, and after requesting the board to rescind the decision, she was acting in the best interests of the country. 

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