Matshela Koko back at Eskom, but not as acting CEO

Cape Town – Suspended Eskom executives Matshela Koko and Prish Govender have been reinstated after being cleared of any wrongdoing, spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe confirmed to Fin24 on Wednesday.

Koko will resume duties as head of generation on Monday January 8, and Govender returned as acting head of group capital on Tuesday January 2, Phasiwe said.

“They have been cleared of any wrongdoing,” he confirmed.

Koko faced a disciplinary hearing over allegedly not declaring a conflict of interest while his stepdaughter Koketso Choma was a director at Impulse International, a firm which benefited from about R1bn worth of contracts awarded by Eskom over 11 months.

In mid-December speculation was rife that Koko would return to his old position as acting CEO, with most publishing houses reporting that Koko was back in the driving seat at Eskom after being found not guilty at his disciplinary hearing.

Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown told the new Eskom board at the time that the state-owned utility had to appoint a new group CEO as a matter of "priority".

She was flanked at Eskom’s Megawatt Park in Sunninghill, Johannesburg by acting CEO Sean Maritz, who joked with the media when he walked in that he's still CEO "as far as he knows".

Eskom said in an emailed response on Wednesday that the final report of Koko's disciplinary hearing found him not guilty of any wrongdoing.

Eskom also said the senior counsel investigating allegations of impropriety in the McKinsey/Trillian matter has cleared Govender and he has been reinstated in his position as the acting group executive for group capital.

Phasiwe explained chairperson Advocate Mzungulu Mthombeni made the decision on Koko’s fate based on the evidence provided by Koko during the disciplinary hearing held last year.

“The independent chairperson determined that sufficient evidence was given.”

Koko hearing 'a sham'

But Koko’s hearing has been publicly criticised as being a sham, having been halted a few times.

At the start Eskom failed to round up witnesses, then the hearing took a one-month break after a new evidence leader, Advocate Cassim Moosa, had to take the reins from Sebetja Matsaung. Matsaung's services were terminated following an altercation with Financial Mail deputy editor Sikonathi Mantshantsha at the hearing.

During one of the sittings Koko’s legal team also handed out to media present an affidavit implicating, among others, senior executives Abram Masango, Peter Sebola, France Hlakudi and Frans Sithole in bribery.

Masango chose not to give evidence at the hearing, which appeared to be a “sham disciplinary hearing”, according to an email from his lawyers, Fin24 previously reported.

Advocate Louwrens Malan, who represented Koko at the hearing, rejected criticism related to the integrity of the hearing.

Govender was implicated in the matter regarding monies paid to consulting firm McKinsey, in a contract which has been declared unlawful and void by Eskom.

amaBhungane previously reported that Govender and Eskom’s Edwin Mabelane had both recommended the consulting engagement be terminated, but that McKinsey be compensated for work which had been carried out.

But Phasiwe indicated investigations have found “nothing untoward” in what Govender did.

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