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Lynne Brown: Molefe is innocent until proven guilty

Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown briefed the media on developments at Eskom, including the reinstatement of Brian Molefe as CEO.

Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown. Picture: Xolani Koyana/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has reiterated that she considers former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe's return to the utility a better option that paying him a R30 million retirement package.

The minister commented this afternoon on the latest Eskom debacle at a briefing in Cape Town.

On Friday morning, Eskom announced that it had decided to re-appoint Molefe as its CEO.

Molefe resigned last year after the Public Protector's state capture report showed that he had been in constant contact with the Gupta family during a deal involving a coal mine that supplies Eskom.

The minister said: “Molefe is innocent until proven guilty.”

She says Molefe still has two and a half years left on his contract and the board has agreed to let him complete it; adding that the board suggested that he return all monies paid to him when he initially left.

The minister says that she has accepted the decision of the board of Eskom to rescind the decision to grant Molefe early retirement.

Brown has told reporters the Eskom board had two options: Pay Brian Molefe R30 million in a pension payout or reappointment him.

She says the latter makes financial sense.

“I believe the board’s proposal ultimately presents a significantly better value proposition to the South African fiscus than the previous pension proposal.”

Brown has also reiterated Molefe is innocent until proven otherwise, despite his name being mentioned in the Public Protector's State Capture report.

The Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown believes Eskom will benefit from Molefe's return.

She says Molefe turned Eskom around.

“Molefe was actually the person who brought Eskom to where it is today after three years, and I know that he was paid to the maintenance and keep the light on; it was his job to do so.”

She says she supports a judicial inquiry into state capture, which she believes could provide clarity.

LEGAL ACTION
Both the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are consulting their lawyers to decide whether they should approach the High Court on an urgent basis to obtain an interdict to stop Molefe’s return.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane says the party is now consulting its lawyers as to whether there are grounds for an interdict.

“We’re enquiring if we can get an interdict of such actions because you can’t have an entity like Eskom being captured in that regard.”

Meanwhile, EFF leader Julius Malema says Molefe is not fit to lead Eskom again.

“We think it’s unacceptable. It is turning our country into a banana republic. And so we have now asked the lawyers to look at whether we can act on an urgent basis since the man says he’s coming to work on Monday.”

The ANC has labelled Molefe’s re-appointment as reckless.

MATSHELA KOKO

Meanwhile, Brown says acting Eskom CEO Matshela Koko is on leave until an investigation into contracts awarded to his step-daughter is concluded.

It's been alleged that Koko's step-daughter Koketso Choma benefited from contracts worth around R1 billion from Eskom.

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