How could Eskom justify paying Brian Molefe an alleged R30 million golden handshake after just 18 months as the CEO?
This is the question that both the Democratic Alliance and the SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) have asked Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to investigate following a news report that, according to Eskom sources, Molefe had received the payout in March.
Molefe had resigned of his own accord following the release of a damning state capture report by former public protector Thuli Madonsela.
Describing the alleged payment, as reported in the Sunday Times, as a “gross abuse of public funds”, DA shadow minister of Public Enterprises Natasha Mazzone said that Mkhwebane must investigate the “highly irregular payout”.
“It is unacceptable that taxpayer money is repeatedly used to benefit underperforming executives who do not deserve it, while vital infrastructure projects are left to gather dust.
“This is clearly not just a pension pay-out as Molefe claims. It is a golden handshake and the DA strongly urges Molefe to immediately pay back the R30 million bonus,” she said.
Eskom has not confirmed the amount paid to Molefe, but said it would be reflected in the annual report that is due in June.
But Sanco said that the matter was too urgent to wait till June. Resources that are supposed to be unlocked for infrastructure development, youth development, job creation, fighting poverty and inequality “are seemingly squandered on an individual facing damning corruption allegations revealed in the Public Protector’s State Capture Report”, said national spokesperson Jabu Mahlangu in a statement.
Delays for rollout of electricity for our communities, free-education for the poor at public schools as well as our universities and the National Health Insurance “cannot be justified when uncurbed salaries and irregular severance package payments are made to CEOs of state owned enterprises,” he said.
Molefe was reduced to tears at a press briefing following the release of the state capture report which revealed that he had exchanged multiple calls with Atul Gupta. The report also detailed how cellphone records had placed Molefe in Saxonwold several times around the time of the controversial Tegeta-Optimum coal mine deal. Molefe said that Madonsela had not given him an opportunity to respond to the allegations. “We will take this report for a judicial review and will submit ourselves to the judicial commission,” said Molefe at the briefing.
Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown told the Sunday Times that she was not aware of Molefe’s Eskom payout.
Without confirming a figure, Eskom board spokesperson Khulani Qoma told the Sunday newspaper that Molefe was paid what was due to him.
“We declare all our directors’ emoluments in our annual report, which is due in June. No amount was paid ... over and above the remuneration due to him as end of 2016.”
Molefe, who stressed that his resignation was not an admission of guilt and has denied acting irregularly, was subsequently sworn in as an ANC member of Parliament, where he currently sits on the backbench.
He told the Sunday Times that he had been paid “what was due” to him but refused to give a figure.
Molefe had not responded to queries at the time of publishing.