A two-page letter reportedly written by former Eskom chairperson Ben Ngubane is apparently at odds with Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown’s claims that she was not party to the power utility’s former CEO Brian Molefe’s employment contract or did not know about plans for his controversial retirement benefits.
According to a Daily Maverick report, the letter – dated November 25, 2015 – forms part of a legal challenge by trade union Solidarity, which wants Molefe’s R30-million pension payout to be declared unlawful and set aside. The case is due to be heard next month.
Ngubane’s letter addressed to Brown stated that Eskom was busy drafting Molefe’s five-year contract “for the minister’s input” as per her request.
According to an email trail, the letter was sent to three people in the department of public enterprises (DPE): the DPE registry officer, the chief director of governance, and Brown’s former personal assistant, Kim Davids.
“Those retirement package details were seemingly being prepared by Eskom and required sign-off from the minister so it could be incorporated into Molefe’s employment contract which was being drawn up at that stage,” the report stated.
Earlier this year in May, Brown told Sunday Times she knew nothing about the payment, saying she did not deal with “operational issues” at the parastatal.
Molefe spent about 16 months at Eskom and left the utility under a cloud in late 2016 following the release of former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report. He was implicated in suspicious dealings between Eskom and the politically connected Gupta family.
The board gave him back his old job at Eskom this year after Brown vetoed the pension payout, but a ministerial task team advised shortly afterwards that he be removed from the post after the pension and his reappointment sparked a public outcry.
Last week, the head of Eskom’s pension and provident fund admitted that Molefe should never have been entitled to the pension payout because he was employed on a fixed five-year contract.
Additional reporting African News Agency