Molefe’s sack­ing sad but nec­es­sary

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

BRIAN Molefe might be ev­ery­thing his sup­port­ers claim him to be: an ex­traor­di­nar­ily tal­ented cor­po­rate leader, the Eskom chief ex­ec­u­tive who kept the lights of South Africa burn­ing in trou­bled times, and the head of a state-owned enterprise who was worth ev­ery cent of the many mil­lions of rand he was paid.

In de­fend­ing the R30 mil­lion pay­out Molefe might get, their ar­gu­ment is prob­a­bly true too that South Africa is used to the con­cept of the golden hand­shake.

Yes, Cole­man An­drews, the for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive of SAA, was paid R232m when he left the na­tional car­rier af­ter two years at the helm.

And yes, Dali Mpofu, now of the EFF, is said to have walked off with R6.7m when he was per­suaded to leave the SABC. These are just two ex­am­ples. We know it will be ar­gued that all these salaries and bonuses are mar­ket re­lated. But in Molefe’s case there was some­thing else, some­thing prob­lem­at­i­cal that should have – and yes­ter­day, even­tu­ally did – rule him out of a sec­ond bite at Eskom’s top job. He was named as a key player in for­mer pub­lic pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela’s State of Cap­ture re­port, as some­one too close to the Gup­tas.

Af­ter the re­port went pub­lic, Molefe quit Eskom in tears, even as he main­tained his in­no­cence.

There was ou­trage when he was sworn in as an MP soon af­ter­wards, amid ru­mours that he was Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s first choice to be the next fi­nance min­is­ter, if, as was widely ex­pected, Pravin Gord­han was sacked.

There was even more dis­be­lief and anger when news of a R30m pay­out for his 18 months’ work at Eskom be­came known, fol­lowed by con­fir­ma­tion of his re­turn to the util­ity for a “you pay your money, you take your pick” type of rea­son.

On Wed­nes­day, an in­ter-min­is­te­rial com­mit­tee, chaired by Jus­tice Min­is­ter Michael Ma­sutha, re­versed Molefe’s ap­point­ment. It is sad that such a tal­ented per­son’s ca­reer at Eskom should have been brought to such an end in such a way.

But it was the right thing to do.

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