Eskom regrets Molefe's exit, says it's a great loss

Cape Town - The Eskom board regrets the decision by Eskom Group CEO Brian Molefe to step down.

In a dramatic move on Friday, Molefe announced that he will voluntarily step down effective from January 1 2017.

Molefe referred to the recently released state capture report by former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and said "observations" made in the report about his conduct are "in material respects inaccurate". In his view Madonsela had effectively deferred his constitutional right to be heard.

As part of the state capture report, cellphone evidence revealed that Molefe and Ajay Gupta, the eldest of three Gupta brothers, made 58 telephone calls to one another between August 2015 and March 2016.

READ: Brian Molefe a 'fallen angel' - economist

The report further details phone calls between Molefe and Ronica Ragavan, a long-time Gupta associate who was recently appointed acting CEO of Oakbay Investments, the family's main holding company.

Moreover, cellphone tracking records obtained by the protector's investigators indicate that Molefe was at or near the Guptas' Saxonwold, Johannesburg compound 19 times between August 5 and November 17 2015.

He expressed the hope that he would be able to clear his name in future. Yet, he said he decided to step down in the interests of good corporate governance, but without any admission of wrongdoing.

Eskom chair Baldwin Ngubane said the decision taken by Molefe was regrettable but understandable.

READ: Molefe has done the right thing by resigning - Yelland

"Since joining Eskom in April 2015, Mr Molefe and his executive management team have turned around the company’s operational and financial performance, with 15 months of no load shedding, the impact of which has been enjoyed by every South African citizen," said Ngubane.
"The improved performance of the power generating units coupled with additional capacity from some of our new build projects has resulted in a stable power system, with excess capacity being exported to neighbouring states."

Ngubane said Eskom's liquidity position has also improved significantly, with liquid assets increasing by 81.6% from R24.1bn a year ago, to R43.8bn at September 30 2016.

The Eskom Board thanked Molefe for what it calls his relentless dedication to turning Eskom around, solidifying a capable executive team and putting it on a sound growth trajectory.

READ: TIMELINE: Brian Molefe's career so far

Eskom said it will soon announce interim leadership arrangements once agreed with its shareholder representative, Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown.

Madonsela told Fin24 on Thursday that it was perfectly within her power as then Public Protector to subpoena cellphone records as part of the forensics of her recently released report on state capture.

READ: Lynne Brown 'sad' to see Molefe go

She emphasised that the cellphone records referred to in her report were certainly not stolen, for instance, and added that one can determine very accurately where a person has been. She said the records were mostly used to look at who was called and calls from whom were received.

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