#EskomInquiry: Exec insists Molefe was permanent, asked for early retirement

Cape Town - Eskom executive support manager Anton Minnaar has told Parliament’s inquiry into state capture that former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe was always a permanent employee of the power utility. 

Minnaar was giving evidence before the oversight committee on public enterprises on Tuesday into the mismanagement of state funds at Eskom.

“It is clear in my view, that we appointed him as a permanent employee. We have never been advised differently,” said Minnaar. 

On multiple occasions he reiterated that he was of the view that Molefe was never a contract worker at the power utility. 

“Even up to today I am very clear he is a permanent employee, he is not a contractor,” he said. 

The committee's evidence leader advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara, however, put it to Minnaar that it was “common knowledge” that Molefe was on a fixed-term contract. 

“You are the first one from Eskom to maintain that somebody on a fixed-term contract is regarded as a permanent employee,” said Vanara. 

The issue is important, as it would affect whether Molefe was or wasn't entitled to a pension payout. 

Minnaar, however, said in his understanding the former CEO was a “permanent employee with a term”. 

He said that Molefe was the first top executive at Eskom to have a permanent contract with a fixed-term, and added it was "not best practice".

Earlier in the inquiry, however, Eskom’s Pension and Provident Fund's CEO Sibusiso Luthuli said Molefe should never have been a member of the pension fund as he was on a five-year fixed term contract.

Only permanent employees are allowed to be members, said Luthuli.

Molefe was initially employed at the power utility as a permanent employee after leaving Transnet. But this was later changed to a five-year fixed-term contract, backdated to October 1, 2015. 

But Minaar said this didn't necessarily mean that he was a contract worker. 

He said this was because when Molefe changed from a permanent employee to a fixed-term employee, he did not renegotiate his benefits. 

“If a person is on a five-year term he has to renegotiate his entire package,” argued Minnaar. 

Molefe also maintains that he was always a permanent employee of the power utility. 

Minnaar also said the only copy of a signed employment contract between Molefe and Eskom that he has was dated March 2016. 

The committee will later hear evidence from the Eskom board, and the power utility's controversial suspended chief financial officer Anoj Singh.

Minnaar says that Molefe applied for early retirement, and did not resign. The question of whether he voluntarily stepped down or applied for early retirement has been under examination during the inquiry. "I know there are different opinions about it, but that is my view," he adds.

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