Eskom couldn’t accept ‘good governance’: Manuel roasts Molefe, Brown

Former finance minister Trevor Manuel tore into Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe, Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown and Eskom chairperson Ben Ngubane on Monday.

Speaking at the Ethics Institute's seventh annual conference at Gallagher Estate in Midrand, Manuel said events at Eskom continue to catapult the issue of ethics into the spotlight.

Manuel said the Eskom board produced a set of "the most incredible reasons" for reinstating Molefe. The key among these was that when Brown declined the board's request to pay him a pension of R30 million, the entire deal of his resignation fell apart and, since they could not pay him the R30 million, they had to re-employ him.

“To this shocking mumbo-jumbo, Minister Brown added that the re-employ of Mr Molefe is in the best interests of the fiscus,” said Manuel.

Manuel spoke about Molefe’s resignation statement, where he said he would step down from Eskom in the “interest of good governance”, and that he did so “voluntarily”.

Manuel jokingly said the board must have then turned to Molefe and said they couldn't accept 'good governance' and 'voluntary'.

Manuel spoke about the Eskom Conversion Act, which was written into law in 2002 and sets out the responsibilities of the Eskom board as follows: “The board is responsible for providing strategic direction and leadership, ensuring good corporate governance and ethics, determining policy, (and) agreeing on performance criteria.”

"When the board fails as patently as it did in this instance, who then takes responsibility?” Manuel asked on the reappointment of Molefe.

Manuel also questioned the proposed pension payout turned down by Brown.

“There is absolutely no way that his contribution, the employee contribution and the growth fund could have produced R30 million. No way at all," said Manuel.

Speaking about Brown, Molefe and Ngubane's conduct at Eskom, Manuel said he is compelled to ask a Psychology 101 question as to whether they were natured or nurtured to conduct themselves outside the norms, morals and ethics of society.

Molefe served as a member of Parliament for three months in 2017 following his resignation as Eskom chief executive in November last year. He stepped down after the release of the State of Capture report by the Public Protector, which claimed Molefe had favoured the Gupta family in awarding coal-supply contracts. The Guptas are close friends with President Jacob Zuma and are in business with his son Duduzane.

Manuel said as an MP Molefe must have taken a serious salary knock, as MPs are only entitled to about R1 million a year. In addition, the Public Protector's report questioned Molefe's conduct.

Brown announced last week that Molefe would serve out the remainder of his contract at Eskom, which ends in 2020.

However, several organisations have gone to court or are exploring legal options to block this reappointment.

WATCH: Learn all about Brian Molefe's return to Eskom

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