Cape Town - Letting Brian Molefe go back to his old job at Eskom after he broke his contract and resigned was better than paying out the proposed R30m pension he wanted, Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown said on Friday.
''In terms of the Eskom board's proposal Mr Molefe agreed to serve out the remainder of his original contract and to reconsider his contract I objected to,'' Brown said at a press conference to elaborate on the unusual move.
''The board's proposal I believe is a better value proposition for the SA fiscus than the previous proposal.''
On November 11, 2016, Molefe announced that he would leave Eskom as Chief Executive Officer in the interests of good governance effective from 1 January 2017.
This was in the middle of an outcry over the November 2 release of the former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's report entitled ''State of Capture''. In it she revealed that cellphone records placed Molefe in the vicinity of the Gupta family's home in Saxonwold at the time they were negotiating a controversial coal-supply deal with Eskom for their company Tegeta.
The Guptas are in business through Tegeta with President Jacob Zuma's son Duduzane and the Public Protector had probed allegations that they had a hand in the appointment of ministers close to government contracts. The claims in the report have not been tested in court.
Molefe had been in the post at Eskom for 20 months and was credited with stabilising electricity supply after periods of scheduled blackouts. After a tearful departure, Molefe went on to be sworn in as a Member of Parliament on February 23.
There had been speculation that he would become finance minister in a Cabinet reshuffle designed to get rid of Pravin Gordhan but Malusi Gigaba bagged the post instead.
In the meantime, while Molefe's pension payout was being processed, it emerged that he stood to get around R30m.
Brown stepped in and blocked this and gave the board time to come to a more suitable proposal over how much he would get.
She objected on the grounds that it could not be substantiated as a performance award because he had already been granted a performance bonus for his contribution to the turnaround of Eskom.
"Nor is the proposed pension payout justifiable in light of the current financial challenges faced, not only by State-Owned Companies (SOCs), but by the country as a whole,'' she said in April.
And then, on Friday it was announced that Molefe would be ditching Parliament to go back to Eskom as CEO to serve out the rest of his five-year contract.
Brown paid tribute to Molefe saying he had pulled it out of the red.
He warned reporters that even though there are still investigations underway into the Tegeta deal, Molefe must be considered innocent of any wrongdoing.
''Mr Molefe is not guilty of anything yet,'' she said.
Acting Eskom CEO Matshela Koko has taken a leave of absence because of allegations that have been leveled against him too.