Daniels slams Eskom over her sus­pen­sion

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Siseko Njobeni

SUS­PENDED Eskom head of le­gal ser­vices, Suzanne Daniels, yes­ter­day slammed her sus­pen­sion, brand­ing her re­moval from the power util­ity un­fair, pro­ce­du­rally in­cor­rect and a mock­ery.

Daniels wants the power util­ity to pay her le­gal bills and to com­pen­sate her for rep­u­ta­tional dam­age. Eskom has sus­pended Daniels over, among oth­ers, a break­away ses­sion at Kievits Kroon, out­side Pre­to­ria, for 20 staff mem­bers that cost R66 000. Daniels ul­ti­mately set­tled the bill.

Daniels has taken her sus­pen­sion to the Com­mis­sion for Con­cil­i­a­tion, Me­di­a­tion and Ar­bi­tra­tion (CCMA). She yes­ter­day told the CCMA that her sus­pen­sion in early Oc­to­ber was a ruse to get her out of Eskom after she wrote a damn­ing re­port on the con­tro­ver­sial McKin­sey and Tril­lian Cap­i­tal Part­ners con­tract.

In the re­port, which was given to Public En­ter­prises Min­is­ter Lynne Brown, Daniels al­leged that sev­eral Eskom ex­ec­u­tives had gone out of their way to en­sure that McKin­sey and Tril­lian were paid, even though there was no valid con­tract. “That is the log­i­cal con­clu­sion one gets,” she said. Eskom is tak­ing steps to re­cover about R1.6 bil­lion paid to the two com­pa­nies.

She was sus­pended shortly after she penned let­ters of de­mand for Tril­lian McKin­sey to re­pay the R1.6bn.

Daniels said the man­ner in which Eskom went about her sus­pen­sion was pro­ce­du­rally in­cor­rect and sub­stan­tially un­fair. “It makes a mock­ery of em­ployee rights and du­ties,” she said.

Act­ing ca­pac­ity

Eskom in­terim chief ex­ec­u­tive Sean Maritz for­mally sus­pended Daniels on Oc­to­ber 6 last year, which is in­ci­den­tally the same day he took over the reins at the power util­ity in an act­ing ca­pac­ity.

Daniels cast doubt on whether Maritz had enough time to ac­quaint him­self with the ac­tion Eskom in­tended to take against her. When Maritz took over from Johnny Dladla, moves to sus­pend Daniels were al­ready un­der way. She had al­ready been served with a no­tice of sus­pen­sion and she had given her rep­re­sen­ta­tions.

Daniels has pre­vi­ously said her charges were spu­ri­ous.

Un­der cross-ex­am­i­na­tion by Eskom le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive Itayi Gwaunza, Daniels said it was un­likely that, in his first day in the new role, Maritz had not only gone through her rep­re­sen­ta­tions to charges given to her a few days prior, but also found time to draw up new charges which she said were based on a different set of facts.

“Where did he have time to con­sider this? It must be all that he did that day. That is why I have pre­vi­ously ques­tioned if he con­sid­ered the rep­re­sen­ta­tions and ap­plied his mind,” she said. Daniels also ar­gued that she did not get an op­por­tu­nity to re­spond to the sec­ond set of charges. “That flies in the face of fair­ness. This is an un­fair sus­pen­sion,” she said.

Her push for the power util­ity to set­tle her le­gal bills and to com­pen­sate her would present the cash-strapped Eskom with an­other fi­nan­cial set­back. Eskom will set­tle re­cently re­in­stated ex­ec­u­tive Mat­shela Koko’s le­gal bills after it found him not guilty of var­i­ous mis­con­duct charges.

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