Eskom to face court case, two inquiries and board review

The three spheres of South Africa’s democracy will get a turn to dig deeper into the leadership crisis at Eskom, following the power utility’s appearance before Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises on Tuesday.

0eca6c392dbb41b4b197aa9a0f9bcad3 - Eskom to face court case, two inquiries and board review

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown. (Pic: Gallo Images)

1. The judiciary sphere

The first sphere of power, the judiciary, has been requested to make the final call on whether Brian Molefe’s reappointment as chief executive at Eskom this month was lawful, following the debacle over his R30m pension pay-out, which was rescinded.

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown said she had submitted her affidavit responding to the Democratic Alliance the Economic Freedom Front’s court bid to have Molefe’s reappointment reversed.

In it, she withdrew her opposition to the section of the bid seeking a reversal of Molefe’s reappointment. “I have decided that I will abide by the court’s decision on the legality of Mr Molefe’s return to Eskom,” she told the committee.

The trial is set for 30 May.

READ: Brown opens up on how Eskom kept her in the dark

2. The executive sphere

The second sphere, the executive, will launch an independent inquiry into the coal procurement process followed by Eskom. Brown revealed the decision to launch the inquiry ahead of her budget vote speech, where she had planned to announce the move. Brown said she wants the inquiry “to lift all the issues” that have been revealed in reports into Eskom.

“My department has already drawn out the terms of reference for it,” she said. “We will have an investigation. At some point, we should do it with the SIU (Special Investigating Unit). It has to bring the other seven investigations that were never completed.”

Brown’s deputy Ben Martins said “it is important to lift the veil on the procurement of coal. It needs to be brought to the fore so that all companies concerned can be identified,” he said. “We need to know all the companies … regardless of family associations.”

Brown further revealed that she has instituted an independent review of the Eskom board, which will provide her with information to possibly “rotate” members at its annual general meeting in June. Many Members of Parliament had suggested the board should be removed, but she hinted that any change would only occur in June.

Zukiswa Rantho, acting chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises, told Brown that the committee is concerned with governance at Eskom. “There seems to be a breakdown between the stakeholder and the board,” she said.

3. The legislative sphere

The legislative sphere, the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises, will recommend that Parliament conducts a legal commission of inquiry into the state of affairs at Eskom regarding the reappointment of Molefe.

“The committee will recommend that there should be a legal commission of inquiry into the state of affairs at Eskom,” said Zukiswa. “Mr Molefe’s reappointment is seen as illegal by this committee and it will see it this way until proven otherwise.

READ: Fraud cloud over Molefe’s reappointment

“We require Eskom to provide documents requested by committee members,” said Zukiswa. “We want correspondence that shows the decision to reappoint Mr Molefe. We are not convinced as a committee.”

May 23 2017 23:21

Matthew le Cordeur