Former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe walked away with a R30-million “golden handshake” even though he was at the power utility for only 18 months.
Molefe resigned from Eskom in November under a cloud after being named in former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report.
The R30-million payment was made last month and has been described as “very irregular”, but Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown said this week she knew nothing about it because this was an “operational issue”.
Documents from Eskom seen by the Sunday Times show that Molefe was paid R30.1-million on March 23.
One document lists the payment under “separation/severance cost”; another document lists it as an “Eskom pension fund” payment.
A source familiar with the payment said Molefe would have had to earn R243-million a year to warrant that sort of pension payout.
Molefe’s package as Eskom CEO was R8-million a year. He was also allocated significant shares as part of Eskom’s long-term incentives when he was seconded to the power utility in April 2015, after having served as Transnet CEO for four years.
He now earns around R1.1-million a year as an ANC backbencher in parliament.
Molefe resigned from Eskom after it was revealed in the State of Capture report that he had exchanged 58 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.
When he resigned from Eskom, Molefe said that should not be misconstrued as an admission of guilt.
Brown said she was not aware of Molefe’s payout bonanza.
“I am not aware that Eskom has paid Brian any severance package, but, then again, those are operational matters managed by the board — it is only brought to my attention if it is unusual,” she said.
LabourNet industrial relations expert Juanne van Vuuren said the payment looked very irregular.
“I have to question where taxpayers’ money is going and what the justifications are for such a payment. This looks like some mutual settlement agreement that they [Eskom and Molefe] reached before he resigned,” she said.
Van Vuuren said Molefe was only eligible for half of his bonus since he had resigned. “He isn’t entitled to the full bonus and benefits, but a pro rata bonus.”
A source at Eskom who confirmed the payment to Molefe said pension fund contributions were 20% of an employee’s pensionable income.
“One’s pensionable income is 60% of the gross salary. If we work the figure of R30-million backwards, the pensionable earning would have to be R146-million a year. The gross salary would have to be R243-million a year,” said the source.
Approached for comment, Molefe said he had been paid “what was due” to him but refused to give a figure.
“I won’t comment about figures. You can ask Eskom for that. All I can say is that I didn’t receive any severance package, but I was paid pension benefits that I was entitled to,” he said.
Eskom spokesman Khulu Phasiwe referred questions to the board.
“I am not privy to how much the board decided to pay Mr Molefe. But I can tell you that the payment would be reflected in our annual report,” he said.
Eskom board spokesman Khulani Qoma said 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,” Qoma said.