Molefe’s sacking sad but necessary
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.