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Brian Molefe: Portfolio committee's hands are tied

Business Report
THE PORTFOLIO committee on public enterprises yesterday said it was unfortunate that it was not able to weigh in on the reappointment of Brian Molefe as Eskom’s chief executive as the matter was already before the courts.

The committee, earlier in the day, had planned to call an extraordinary sitting for tomorrow to engage with the power utility's board and Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown on the controversies engulfing Eskom, chief among them Molefe’s return to the helm of the power utility last week. Acting committee chairperson Zukiswa Rantho said they were disappointed with the latest developments.

“As the oversight body to the department and the power utility, the committee wanted the minister and Eskom executives and the board to appear before the committee so that we would be able to listen and hear what is happening from all affected parties,” Rantho said.

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Brian Molefe File picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/Independent Media

She said the planned meeting had to be shelved after the committee was advised that a member of the committee had already approached the courts to seek relief over Molefe’s return to Eskom.

“We are unable to discuss the matter as it is sub judice and, as the committee, we are unable to do proper oversight as planned. What is important is stability and effective and efficient governance,” she said.

Eskom’s woes deepened on Tuesday when former mineral resources minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi claimed that Molefe and board chairperson Ben Ngubane tried to coerce him into swinging the now-infamous Optimum deal in favour of the Gupta family. Ngubane has denied the claims while Molefe has been silent so far. Molefe’s return has elicited an angry response from the ANC.

Public Enterprises spokesperson Colin Cruywagen denied media reports that the ANC had ordered Minister Brown and the Eskom board to rescind Molefe’s controversial reappointment, arguing that the ruling party had merely asked Brown to involve President Jacob Zuma and his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, in “resolving” the matter.

“The meeting agreed that the government must resolve the matter. Minister Brown is in discussion with the president and deputy president on the matter,” Cruywagen said.

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