CAPE TOWN, July 4 – The Labour Court on Tuesday postponed the hearing of Brian Molefe’s challenge to his dismissal as Eskom CEO, pending the outcome of the high court application by the opposition for his re-appointment to be ruled invalid and set aside.
The Labour Court in its ruling rejected Molefe’s contention that he needed to be restored to his position at Eskom in order to oppose the high court application to overturn his re-appointment. It said he had already filed papers extensively in that matter in his private capacity.
“Molefe is entitled to participate and oppose the High Court applications and he can do so without an order from this court restoring his employment status.”
The Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters have separately approached the high court to have Molefe’s reinstatement at the helm of Eskom in May declared null and void. His controversial re-appointment came after Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown vetoed plans by the power utility to pay him R30 million as an early retirement settlement.
The Eskom board said it was compelled to pay him the sum because he did not resign from Eskom in November after he was fingered in then Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report on state capture, but applied for early retirement, on the understanding that he was entitled to it at age 50.
The claim met with disbelief and condemnation, not least because he had since taking up a seat as an ANC MP.
Molefe is arguing in papers before the Labour Court that his dismissal was motivated by political reasons and that these are not acceptable grounds for removal from his post.
The Democratic Alliance is also asking the high court to declare any retirement allocation paid to Molefe to be unlawful and compel him to refund the money. The EFF’s application includes a request to the court to declare that Molefe is unsuitable for the post of Eskom CEO.
He left the company under a cloud after Madonsela found that he had extensive contact with the Gupta family and that Eskom had seemingly bent over backwards to buy coal from one of their companies, Tegeta Exploration.