An emotional Brian Molefe at an Eskom meeting before his departure last year. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi
Johannesburg – Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane says she is taken aback by the Eskom board’s controversial decision to reinstate Brian Molefe to his position as chief executive.

On Friday, Mkhwebane said she was surprised as Molefe had resigned to clear his name following damning findings against him in the State of Capture report. 

“The public protector is taken aback by the latest developments because when he (Molefe) announced his departure from Eskom last November, Mr Molefe indicated he considered the resignation a correct thing to do, which he did ‘in the interests of (Eskom) and good corporate governance’. He added he was going to clear his name,” Mkhwebane’s spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said.

Segalwe said Mkhwebane viewed Molefe’s resignation as a commendable, and consistent with the principles of good governance.

“The State of Capture report is before the court, where all the issues will be ventilated. The public protector cannot say much about the matter because it is sub judice. She calls on everyone involved and interested to give that process an opportunity to run its course. Whatever the outcome, the public protector will comply,” he said.

In last year’s State of Capture report, former public protector Thuli Madonsela accused Molefe of favouring the Gupta family in awarding them coal supply contracts at Eskom.

On Friday, Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown was at pains to explain the decision to journalists, saying Molefe must be considered innocent until proven guilty.

On Saturday, ANC Women’s League North West secretary Bridgette Seakamo, who is an ex-officio member of the party’s national executive committee, also said she was “shocked” at Molefe’s return to Megawatt Park in Sunninghill.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane File picture: Phill Magakoe

“The details were still sketchy. Maybe there are burning issues or reasons why he returned. We expect him to explain the decision to the provincial leadership as the province that backed his deployment to the National Assembly,” said Seakamo.

She was speaking on the sidelines of the league’s regional congress in Madibeng.

The SACP joined the ANC and opposition parties in condemning the reinstatement of Molefe. In a statement after the meeting of the party’s top brass, it called for the reappointment to be reversed.

“The politburo noted with deep concern the growing evidence of a reckless, parasitic network within government and within the ANC that operates outside of any collective discipline of either cabinet or of the ANC’s national executive committee and other constitutional structures. What is more, this network appears to enjoy the support, tacit or otherwise, of President Jacob Zuma himself.”

On Friday, in a statement the ANC said the decision was unfortunate and reckless.

“The decision therefore to reinstate him in his former position without these matters being resolved is tone deaf to the public’s absolute exasperation and anger at what seems to be government’s lacklustre and lackadaisical approach to dealing decisively with corruption – perceived or real,” ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa.

Cope threatened to block Molefe from entering the Eskom offices.

Eskom board spokesperson Khulani Qoma said the backlash against Molefe’s return to the power utility “is based on weak reasons. Brian Molefe has not been found guilty by any legitimate constitutional entity. It’s a sign of grave immaturity among the citizens of a constitutional democracy to depart from the principle of ‘innocence until proven guilty’ in haste to prematurely destroy someone’s name”.