BREAKING: Molefe will return to Eskom as CEO

Brian Molefe.
Brian Molefe.

Cape Town – Brian Molefe has agreed to return to Eskom as its chief executive on Monday, after the board rescinded his application for early retirement, Eskom board spokesperson Khulani Qoma confirmed on Friday.

Molefe quit in November 2016 following former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report and has been a Member of Parliament for the past three months.

Qoma said the board met after Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown objected to Eskom’s R30m pension payout to Molefe, which she only discovered through a story in the Sunday Times on April 16, which described the payout as "very irregular".

As a result, Brown announced that she had turned down Molefe's request for a pension payout. "I found the argument presented by the board on why the pension arrangement was conceived lacking in legal rationale, and it cannot be substantiated as a performance reward, because Mr Molefe has already been granted a performance bonus for his contribution to the turnaround of Eskom," she said.

Eskom chairperson Ben Ngubane told Business Report “that in accordance with the minister’s instructions, the parties attempted to find a mutually acceptable pension proposal, but were unable to reach such an arrangement.”

Qoma confirmed that the board met to find a solution and decided to rescind his application.

He revealed that Molefe never resigned, but asked for early retirement in November.

“He didn’t resign,” he told Fin24 on Friday. “He applied for early retirement. When he left, it was on the basis of early retirement that was approved by the board.

“The rescinding of this retirement package triggers his reinstatement by law,” he said. “The board had to then negotiate with him (Molefe) and he agreed to come back and welcomes coming back to finish the job that he started.”

He said he will get his old employment contract back with the same financial package.

Matshela Koko will return to his previous position of group executive for generation.

Parliament confirmed the resignation of Molefe as a Member of Parliament effective from Sunday, News24's Paul Herman reported on Friday. "The speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Baleka Mbete, wishes Mr Molefe well."

When he announced his resignation in November 2016, Molefe said he "decided to leave ... voluntarily".

"I wish to reiterate that this act is not an admission of wrongdoing on my part," he said. "It is rather what I feel to be the correct thing to do in the interests of the company and good corporate governance."

"I go now, because it is in the interests of Eskom and the public it serves, that I do so."

Economist Iraj Abedian said at the time that it was important that Molefe resigned, as he brought the whole organisation into disrepute.

"He could no longer have the respect and trust of his staff. Bone fide clients of Eskom could not trust the entity either."

There was speculation that Molefe was brought into Parliament so that President Jacob Zuma could appoint him minister of finance when he removed Pravin Gordhan, and there were reports that Zuma was blocked from doing so, which resulted in Malusi Gigaba and Sfiso Buthelezi getting the new roles of minister and deputy minister respectively.

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