Brian Molefe returns as chief executive of Eskom
Brian Molefe is returning to his job as chief executive of Eskom on Monday – just months after stepping down in the aftermath of a furore over his links to the Gupta family.
Board spokesman Khulani Qoma confirmed his return in an interview on radio 702 on Friday.
“Definitely‚ he is coming back on Monday‚” he said. Molefe has resigned as a member of parliament in order to resume his former position.
His return was sparked by a dispute over a reported R30 million pension payment that he was awarded after he announced in November that he was stepping down “in the interest of good corporate governance.”
The Sunday Times revealed that he was awarded the hefty “golden handshake” despite being at the power utility for only 18 months.
Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown said shortly afterwards that there was no justification for the payment.
Qoma said the Sunday Times story had resulted in Brown instructing the board to review the payout and come up with a mutually acceptable agreement. “We could not agree … so a decision was made to rescind the initial decision by the board for a pension payout.”
That effectively nullified his resignation and he would return to work on Monday‚ he said.
Molefe resigned from Eskom after it was revealed in the State of Capture report by former public protector Thuli Madonsela that he had exchanged 58 calls with Atul Gupta.
The report also detailed how cellphone records had placed Molefe in Saxonwold‚ the Gupta residence in Johannesburg‚ several times around the time of the controversial Tegeta-Optimum coal mine deal signed with Eskom.
Eskom chairperson Ben Ngubane said he was “absolutely delighted” to have Molefe back.
“We are facing serious problems. None of our applications for coal purchases had been approved by the Treasury. We need that skill that saved us last time. When he came here‚ Eskom was on the brink of collapse. The previous chief executive had spoken about blackouts. There was a stage when they told the minister that Eskom might not be able to pay salaries‚” Ngubane told Business Report.
“In terms of our fiduciary responsibility‚ we had no alternative other than to bring (Molefe) back to help us‚” said Ngubane.
Ngubane said acting chief executive Matshela Koko would return to his full-time post as group executive for generation‚ Business Report said.
Molefe announced his departure from Eskom at a dramatic press conference‚ where he tearfully denied any impropriety and made his famous comment about the Saxonwold shebeen.
“There is a shebeen there‚ I think it’s two streets away from the Gupta house‚” he said at the time. “Now I will not admit nor deny that I was going to the shebeen.”