Now Eskom wants to give Molefe R11-million

27 August 2017 - 00:00 By MZILIKAZI wa AFRIKA
Minister Lynne Brown previously scuppered a R30-million golden handshake for Brian Molefe, left. Picture: Trevor Samson
Minister Lynne Brown previously scuppered a R30-million golden handshake for Brian Molefe, left. Picture: Trevor Samson

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown this week quashed yet another bid by Eskom's board to pay former CEO Brian Molefe a multimillion-rand golden handshake.

The request to pay Molefe a settlement of R11.2-million was made to Brown by interim board chairman Zethembe Khoza.

It came just months after the minister rejected an initial bid to pay Molefe a R30-million "early retirement package" in April, following a Sunday Times exposè.

Khoza's letter to Brown, which was seen by the Sunday Times, was dated June 28, just two weeks after Ben Ngubane resigned as Eskom chairman.

In it, Khoza said Molefe was paid R8.3-million in remuneration last year.

Molefe was with Eskom for just 18 months before he "voluntarily resigned" from the power utility last December after being implicated in former public protector Thuli Madonsela's State of Capture report.

Madonsela questioned Molefe's close relationship with the Gupta family, noting his 58 calls with Ajay Gupta at the time that companies linked to the controversial family were bidding for tenders with Eskom.

Khoza told Brown in his letter that Molefe would have been in line for an estimated R47-million should he have stayed with Eskom for the remainder of his contract.

Khoza wrote that the R11.2-million "be considered to settle the current matter with Mr Molefe". The payout was "fair for both Mr Molefe and Eskom. This will be a full and final settlement."

Minister 'disconcerted'

But this week Brown wrote back to Khoza, saying "there is no basis to support a settlement with Mr Molefe".

"I am of the view also that ... it is inappropriate to consider a settlement when there is still a case to be answered in the high court by all the parties including Mr Molefe.

"I find it disconcerting to be approached on settlement when, as alluded to in your letter, there are no rules at Eskom to support such an initiative," Brown added.

The High Court in Pretoria is due to hear a case relating to Molefe's Eskom job shortly.

The Sunday Times has also seen documents suggesting that the initial decision to pay Molefe R30-million, taken on November 21 last year, was irregular in that there was no quorum at the meeting.

The documents reflect that "it was noted that no formal decisions would be passed" due to the lack of quorum, yet Molefe's early retirement and benefits were discussed and approved.

During the meeting a draft letter accepting Molefe's retirement and benefits, to be signed by Ngubane, was read and discussed.

Venete Klein, who was chairwoman of the committee, said yesterday: "We were not quorate and hence had no decision-making authority."

Khoza, who was also present, acknowledged yesterday that it "did not have the requisite number of members to quorate and therefore did not have approval authority."

But Molefe's lawyer, Barry Farber, yesterday said "everything was done 100% kosher".

Molefe became a pensioner

"Whatever was agreed at that meeting, my client wasn't there. Whether there was a quorum or not, [what] was agreed was implemented and accepted, and my client became a pensioner," Farber said.

The Sunday Times has also established that Khoza chaired the Eskom tender board committee that awarded multibillion-rand contracts to Gupta-linked companies.

"The tender board committee awarded tenders, which came before it, on merit only," he said yesterday. "Tegeta's initial contract was awarded before my tenure as chairperson of the tender committee; only extensions or amendments may have occurred during my time."

Under Khoza, the committee awarded a deal worth R419-million to McKinsey and Trillian; a deal worth R4-billion to Dongfang, even though the company was R1-billion more expensive than other bidders; and a deal worth R7-billion to Tegeta for its Koornfontein mine to supply coal to the Komati power station in 2016. This deal was an extension of another R4-billion, 10-year contract for the supply of coal from Brakfontein.

Brown's spokesman Colin Cruywagen said yesterday: "The minister does not comment on internal correspondence with other parties."