Lamberti quits Eskom board after row over black accountant
One of Eskom’s new directors has quit after a high court hearing in which he was criticised for calling an experienced chartered accountant a "female employment equity" candidate.
Mark Lamberti submitted his resignation on Friday evening‚ public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan said on Saturday. “His resignation was duly accepted‚” he said.
In his resignation letter‚ Lamberti told Gordhan: “This decision is motivated by my fiduciary duty to Eskom and my consistent and proven record of acting in so far as possible in the best interests of South Africa.”
The Imperial CEO said his decision to quit had been sparked by the March 23 judgment in the high court in Pretoria.
Adila Chowan‚ a former employee at Imperial’s subsidiary‚ Associated Motor Holdings‚ brought a court application against Lamberti last year after she was fired for misconduct in September 2015. She was summarily suspended and investigated after she laid a grievance over Lamberti's comments.
Judge Piet Meyer found Chowan to be a credible witness who gave reliable evidence about how she was sidelined from being appointed as company CFO – despite promises made to her by Lamberti. He said Chowan's belief that she had suffered racial and gender discrimination was "justified"‚ based on the facts before the court.
The court also found that Chowan proved that she suffered damages as a result of Lamberti and AMH’s conduct.
In his resignation letter‚ Lamberti maintained that “while mistakes were made and there are important lessons to be learnt‚ there were no findings in the judgment of race or gender discrimination against AMH‚ Imperial or myself.
“Despite this‚ there has been a mainstream and social media frenzy of generally inaccurate commentary. This is being fuelled by a political agenda and legally incorrect interpretations of the judgment‚ which have culminated ... in the most vitriolic defamation of my person.
“The most telling aspect of this is the call for the minister and indeed the president to remove me from the Eskom board.”
Gordhan said Lamberti was to be commended for his decision to put the interest of Eskom‚ its board and the country before all else.
“Mr Lamberti has stated that he cannot‚ in good conscience‚ accept any compensation from Eskom and will return the fees paid to him as most of the Eskom board’s work to date has been preparatory‚" he said.
In an email to Imperial staff on Thursday‚ Lamberti said his reference to Chowan as a "female employment equity" candidate was not intended to demean her.
"My statement‚ intended to indicate attentiveness to the Employment Equity Act and society’s expectations of business‚ was not malicious or meant to hurt or demean her in any way and I regret and apologise for any hardship that it caused‚" he said.