CAPE TOWN – Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown said on Friday she had endorsed the Eskom board’s decision to ask former CEO Brian Molefe to return to the utility to serve out the remainder of his contract and defended him against corruption allegations.
Brown told reporters she believed the arrangement would be better value for public funds than the board’s earlier decision to pay him out R30 million in pension benefits, which she had vetoed.
“In terms of the board’s proposal, Mr Molefe agreed to serve out the remainder of his original contract and to reconsider the terms of his previous pension arrangements.”
Brown said she felt this was a “better value proposition to the South African fiscus that the previous pension proposal”.
“I was satisfied…and recognised the merit in its proposal on the proviso of its legality.”
It was confirmed earlier on Friday that Molefe would vacate his seat as an ANC MP, to return to the helm of Eskom. The move drew widespread criticism from political parties, including the ruling African National Congress. Molefe had left Eskom to take up a seat as an ANC MP.
The outcry centered around findings by former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela in her report on state capture that Molefe had been in regular contact with the Gupta family and that on his watch Eskom had gone out of its way to procure coal from their company Tegeta Exploration.
Molefe resigned from Eskom late last year after the report was released.
But Brown dismissed the outcry as “ethical”, saying that until allegations in Madonsela’s report had been proven, he was not guilty of anything.
“The man has not been proven guilty.”
“The report made recommendation for further investigation and until the President used his prerogative and and calls a commission of inquiry or there is another form of investigation, Mr Molefe is not guilty of anything….”
It was widely expected that President Jacob Zuma would make Molefe finance minister after he was sworn in as ANC MP, but the post went to Malusi Gigaba after the president reshuffled the Cabinet in March. There were reports that the ANC’s top leadership had refused to accept him in the portfolio.
– African News Agency (ANA)