Eskom welcomes back ‘Papa Action’ Molefe amid scramble to undo reappointment

Eskom CEO Brian Molefe.
Eskom CEO Brian Molefe.

Cape Town – Eskom staff in Johannesburg sang songs of praise as Brian Molefe addressed them on his first day back as chief executive.

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe tweeted photos of hundreds of Eskom employees gathered in the main entrance at Megawatt Park as protestors from COPE and the Democratic Alliance protested Molefe’s return outside. He said Molefe addressed staff after an impromptu meeting occurred.

Destiny Man editor Thabiso TT Tema tweeted that employees held up posters that read: “Welcome back Papa Action”.

Molefe danced his way into the main hall at Eskom as staff sang jubilantly, twitter photos and videos show. Former acting Eskom CEO Matshela Koko also tweeted a video of Molefe, saying: "What a welcoming for Brian Molefe at Eskom".

* Were you inside Eskom when Brian Molefe arrived?Share your eyewitness accounts with us.

"Molefe told staff that Eskom will continue to keep the lights (on) to power the economy (and will) ... rollout the electrification programme," tweeted Phasiwe.

"We'll also continue to ensure that we complete the new build programme, namely Medupi and Kusile. Ingula is fully operational," Molefe said, according to Phasiwe.

While there has been wide condemnation of Molefe’s return to the power utility, Eskom employees have fond memories of the chief executive, after he built up morale amid the load shedding debacle in 2015.

EARLIER ON MONDAY: Court bid to block Molefe begins as parties protest outside Eskom

Molefe stepped down in November 2016, citing good governance after the Public Protector’s State of Capture report implicated him in coal contracts linked to the Guptas.

While it was assumed Molefe had resigned, it emerged this year that he was given a R30m pension payout, with Eskom board spokesperson Khulani Qoma telling Fin24 that Molefe had retired and not resigned in 2016.

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown said she only discovered that this payout was granted after a Sunday Times expose and told the Eskom board to find another way. Bringing Molefe back after three months as a Member of Parliament was their solution.

“The board's proposal I believe is a better value proposition for the SA fiscus than the previous proposal,” she told reporters on Friday.

Following this, the African National Congress called Brown to a meeting to either reverse the decision to reappoint Molefe or remove the entire Eskom board, Sunday Times reported.

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

Various parties and groups are seeking legal action to prevent Molefe’s return.

The Democratic Alliance said its attorney has lodged court papers on the North Gauteng High Court on Monday to have Molefe’s reappointment “stopped with immediate effect”.

Economic Freedom Fighters head Julius Malema said the party is consulting its lawyers and will “approach the courts to stop this madness”.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse sent Brown a letter on Friday, demanding that she reverse Eskom’s decision or face legal action.

Corruption Watch is also considering legal action. “The sort of ethical challenges displayed by Molefe, (Eskom chairperson Ben) Ngubane and the Eskom board disqualify them from public life and we will do all within our power to ensure that they are driven out of Eskom and all other public institutions,” said Corruption Watch executive director David Lewis.

Save South Africa briefed its legal advisers on steps that can be taken to keep Molefe out of Eskom, and will work with others to mobilise protests to show the nation’s outrage, it said.

EE Publishers MD Chris Yelland tweeted on Friday that Eskom’s legal department confirmed a number of legal actions were in progress to prevent Molefe from returning to work at Eskom on Monday.

Videos and photos from Molefe's welcome back meeting:

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