New Eskom board re­veal marred by more Gupta ques­tions

CityPress - - Business - DEWALD VAN RENS­BURG dewald.vrens­burg@city­press.co.za

Pub­lic En­ter­prises Min­is­ter Lynne Brown on Friday reap­pointed four Eskom di­rec­tors who, ex­actly a week ago, she said she wanted to get rid of.

The four di­rec­tors re­tained at Eskom’s an­nual gen­eral meet­ing on Friday are joined by four new nonex­ec­u­tives and new act­ing CEO Johnny Dladla, and in­clude chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Anoj Singh, who has be­come the lat­est Eskom boss to have his name crop up in the #Gup­taLeaks scan­dal.

Friday’s ac­tion fol­lows an ac­ri­mo­nious meet­ing at the end of last month, when the board re­fused to let an in­ter­min­is­te­rial com­mit­tee that Brown is part of even see the al­leged le­gal ad­vice the Eskom board re­lied on when it reap­pointed Brian Molefe as CEO with­out ask­ing for Brown’s ap­proval.

The whole board is now an “in­terim board” un­til Cabinet ap­proves them next month, Brown said.

This raises the pos­si­bil­ity that some of the re­tained di­rec­tors may yet lose their seats.

Brown de­scribed the now nine-strong board as a “new dawn”, but has al­ready made it clear that she has no faith in roughly half of the mem­bers.

In a re­ply­ing af­fi­davit in the labour court case re­lat­ing to Molefe’s mys­te­ri­ous res­ig­na­tion or early re­tire­ment, filed on June 18, Brown said: “The only rea­son I have not dis­solved the board is be­cause it may have sig­nif­i­cant im­pli­ca­tions for guar­an­tees is­sued by Eskom and, fur­ther, that an an­nual gen­eral meet­ing is to be held on June 23, when I have to con­sider whether to reap­point the di­rec­tors of the board for a fur­ther term.

“It was the board’s con­duct within the in­ter­min­is­te­rial com­mit­tee meet­ing on May 31 that, among other things, made me lose con­fi­dence in the board,” she said.

This im­plied she in­tended to get rid of board mem­bers at the an­nual gen­eral meet­ing on Friday, but, af­ter the res­ig­na­tion of board chair Ben Ngubane last week, it seems the rest of the board is safe for now.

In her af­fi­davit, Brown said that, by June 1, she, her staff and se­nior coun­sel had de­cided that the board’s be­hav­iour re­gard­ing Molefe’s reap­point­ment was “highly ir­reg­u­lar”.

The re­peated ex­cuse by Eskom that Molefe had not re­signed but took early re­tire­ment was also seem­ingly au­thor­i­ta­tively knocked down in Brown’s eyes.

On June 6, she re­ceived an email from the Com­pa­nies and In­tel­lec­tual Property Commission stat­ing that it had re­ceived no­tice of Molefe’s res­ig­na­tion in Novem­ber.

Eskom then coun­tered that this had been a “draft no­tice” that it had sent to the commission, which Brown said was “un­sat­is­fac­tory”.

Molefe’s case will be heard in the labour court at the end of the month.

UN­FIN­ISHED BUSI­NESS

The pre­vi­ous act­ing CEO, Mat­shela Koko, is still on paid leave due to an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Eskom con­tracts given to a com­pany em­ploy­ing his step­daugh­ter.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion by law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr into the Koko af­fair has been given to the min­is­ter, but she said she was still study­ing it and wait­ing for the Eskom board to de­cide what ac­tion to take.

If Koko was cleared and re­turns to work, he would re­turn to his old job as head of gen­er­a­tion, she said.

It will, how­ever, still be quite some time be­fore Eskom has a per­ma­nent board.

The job of CEO would be read­ver­tised only af­ter the Molefe case was fi­nalised.

“I want to give South Africa some­one who wasn’t con­flicted by hav­ing ap­plied for the CEO po­si­tion or been named in any way,” she said of Dladla, who is a veteran at the paras­tatal.

“Eskom’s rep­u­ta­tion has been se­verely com­pro­mised, but no al­le­ga­tions have been proven in court,” said Brown. New nonex­ec­u­tive board mem­bers Pu­lane Molok­wane Sim­phiwe Din­gaan Ban­oth­ile Makhubela Sathi­asee­lan Gounden Reap­pointed board mem­bers Chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Singh Act­ing chair­per­son Zethembe Khoza Pat Naidoo Gio­vanni Leonardi

PHOTO: LINDILE MBONTSI

NEW DAWN Pub­lic En­ter­prises Min­is­ter Lynne Brown

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