The issues around the controversial return of former MP Brian Molefe to the helm of Eskom raise concerns about the accountability structure at the embattled utility, according to an expert.
And yet another Gupta-related scandal was unravelled by the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism yesterday.
It revealed that, according to former mineral resources minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi, Molefe and board chairman Ben Ngubane tried to coerce him into blackmailing coal giant Glencore.
He told amaBhungane that his refusal to do this led to him being reshuffled and eventually fired from Cabinet.
Economics lecturer at the university of Johannesburg Dr Sean Muller said the subsequent court action by the DA following Molefe’s reappointment raised the issue of the broader governance structures at Eskom.
“The CEO is accountable to the board, who are accountable to the minister, who accounts to both the president and parliament. The entire accountability structure seems to have failed,” he said.
Muller added that parliament had exerted little authority on these issues and that, in this sense, even if Molefe’s problematic reappointment was blocked, there would still be the concern that neither the board nor the minister seemed to want to appoint a competent and credible CEO, who was untainted by corruption allegations.
“For investors and ratings agencies, that is the overriding concern. Molefe is an important player in this regard, but the very fact that there is an attempt to reappoint him shows how much bigger the problem is,” said Muller.
On Monday, the DA filed court papers applying to interdict the continued employment of Molefe at Eskom, saying that the decision taken by Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown, as well as the Eskom board, to reappoint him was “irrational and illegal”.
Yesterday, the ANC confirmed that its national executive committee met Brown to discuss the issue at Luthuli House on Monday after the party expressed shock and disapproval at the surprise reappointment.
It has now passed the buck back to government to deal with the apparent impasse.
Molefe and Brown‚ who were due to make public appearances yesterday, were both conspicuous by their absence.