Now Eskom wants to give Molefe R11m

Eskom board sets its sights lower at R11.2m in pay­out re­quest

Sunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By MZILIKAZI wa AFRIKA

Yet an­other bid to se­cure a mul­ti­mil­lion­rand pay­out for for­mer Eskom CEO Brian Molefe has failed.

This week Public En­ter­prises Min­is­ter Lynne Brown blocked a move to pay a re­vised set­tle­ment of R11.2-mil­lion to Molefe, who took early re­tire­ment in De­cem­ber af­ter be­ing im­pli­cated in for­mer public pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela’s State of Cap­ture re­port.

Act­ing Eskom chair­man Zethembe Khoza wrote to Brown in June ask­ing that the R11.2mil­lion “be con­sid­ered to set­tle the cur­rent mat­ter with Mr Molefe”. He said the pay­out “is fair for both Mr Molefe and Eskom. This will be a full and fi­nal set­tle­ment”.

But Brown took him to task, say­ing there was “no ba­sis to sup­port a set­tle­ment” and that she found his re­quest dis­con­cert­ing.

Public En­ter­prises Min­is­ter Lynne Brown this week quashed yet an­other bid by Eskom’s board to pay for­mer CEO Brian Molefe a mul­ti­mil­lion-rand golden hand­shake.

The re­quest to pay Molefe a set­tle­ment of R11.2-mil­lion was made to Brown by in­terim board chair­man Zethembe Khoza.

It came just months af­ter the min­is­ter re­jected an ini­tial bid to pay Molefe a R30-mil­lion “early re­tire­ment pack­age” in April, fol­low­ing a Sun­day Times ex­posé.

Khoza’s let­ter to Brown, which was seen by the Sun­day Times, was dated June 28, just two weeks af­ter Ben Ngubane re­signed as Eskom chair­man.

In it, Khoza said Molefe was paid R8.3mil­lion in re­mu­ner­a­tion last year.

Molefe was with Eskom for just 18 months be­fore he “vol­un­tar­ily re­signed” from the power util­ity last De­cem­ber af­ter be­ing im­pli­cated in for­mer public pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela’s State of Cap­ture re­port.

Madon­sela ques­tioned Molefe’s close re­la­tion­ship with the Gupta fam­ily, not­ing his 58 calls with Ajay Gupta at the time that com­pa­nies linked to the con­tro­ver­sial fam­ily were bid­ding for ten­ders with Eskom.

Khoza told Brown in his let­ter that Molefe would have been in line for an es­ti­mated R47-mil­lion should he have stayed with Eskom for the re­main­der of his con­tract.

Khoza wrote that the R11.2-mil­lion “be con­sid­ered to set­tle the cur­rent mat­ter with Mr Molefe”. The pay­out was “fair for both Mr Molefe and Eskom. This will be a full and fi­nal set­tle­ment.”

Min­is­ter ‘dis­con­certed’

But this week Brown wrote back to Khoza, say­ing “there is no ba­sis to sup­port a set­tle­ment with Mr Molefe”.

“I am of the view also that . . . it is in­ap­pro­pri­ate to con­sider a set­tle­ment when there is still a case to be an­swered in the high court by all the par­ties in­clud­ing Mr Molefe.

“I find it dis­con­cert­ing to be ap­proached on set­tle­ment when, as al­luded to in your let­ter, there are no rules at Eskom to sup­port such an ini­tia­tive,” Brown added.

The High Court in Pre­to­ria is due to hear a case re­lat­ing to Molefe’s Eskom job shortly.

The Sun­day Times has also seen doc­u­ments sug­gest­ing that the ini­tial de­ci­sion to pay Molefe R30-mil­lion, taken on Novem­ber 21 last year, was ir­reg­u­lar in that there was no quo­rum at the meet­ing.

The doc­u­ments re­flect that “it was noted that no for­mal de­ci­sions would be passed” due to the lack of quo­rum, yet Molefe’s early re­tire­ment and ben­e­fits were dis­cussed and ap­proved.

Dur­ing the meet­ing a draft let­ter ac­cept­ing Molefe’s re­tire­ment and ben­e­fits, to be signed by Ngubane, was read and dis­cussed.

Venete Klein, who was chair­woman of the com­mit­tee, said yes­ter­day: “We were not quo­rate and hence had no de­ci­sion-mak­ing author­ity.”

Khoza, who was also present, ac­knowl­edged yes­ter­day that it “did not have the req­ui­site num­ber of mem­bers to quo­rate and there­fore did not have ap­proval author­ity.”

But Molefe’s lawyer, Barry Far­ber, yes­ter­day said “ev­ery­thing was done 100% kosher”.

Molefe be­came a pensioner

“What­ever was agreed at that meet­ing, my client wasn’t there. Whether there was a quo­rum or not, [what] was agreed was im­ple­mented and ac­cepted, and my client be­came a pensioner,” Far­ber said.

The Sun­day Times has also es­tab­lished that Khoza chaired the Eskom ten­der board com­mit­tee that awarded multi­bil­lion-rand con­tracts to Gupta-linked com­pa­nies.

“The ten­der board com­mit­tee awarded ten­ders, which came be­fore it, on merit only,” he said yes­ter­day. “Tegeta’s ini­tial con­tract was awarded be­fore my ten­ure as chair­per­son of the ten­der com­mit­tee; only ex­ten­sions or amend­ments may have oc­curred dur­ing my time.”

Un­der Khoza, the com­mit­tee awarded a deal worth R419-mil­lion to McKin­sey and Tril­lian; a deal worth R4-bil­lion to Dong­fang, even though the com­pany was R1-bil­lion more ex­pen­sive than other bid­ders; and a deal worth R7-bil­lion to Tegeta for its Koorn­fontein mine to sup­ply coal to the Ko­mati power sta­tion in 2016. This deal was an ex­ten­sion of an­other R4-bil­lion, 10-year con­tract for the sup­ply of coal from Brak­fontein.

Brown’s spokesman Colin Cruy­wa­gen said yes­ter­day: “The min­is­ter does not com­ment on in­ter­nal cor­re­spon­dence with other par­ties.”

Brian Molefe’s pen­sion saga con­tin­ues.

Pic­ture: Trevor Sam­son

Min­is­ter Lynne Brown pre­vi­ously scup­pered a R30-mil­lion golden hand­shake for Brian Molefe, left.

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