JOHANNESBURG - Eskom head of generation Matshela Koko on Friday became the latest executive to leave the power utility under a cloud.
Koko has come under scrutiny for his alleged role in the poor governance, maladministration and corruption at Eskom. At the time of his resignation, Koko was on suspension, facing a handful of misconduct charges. Eskom has accused Koko of, among others, misleading Parliament and leaking confidential information to a Gupta associate.
In December, an Eskom disciplinary hearing failed to prove another set of misconduct charges against him. These included alleged failure to declare the interests of his daughter-in-law in Impulse International, a company that was doing business with Eskom.
Other executives who have left Eskom recently include former Chief Financial Officer Anoj Singh and former acting head of group capital Prish Govender. Former interim group chief executive Sean Maritz is currently on suspension. The Presidency last month ordered the new Eskom board to get rid of executives implicated in corruption at Eskom.
Koko has so far resisted pressure to leave the power utility and went to the extent of launching a Labour Court order, barring Eskom from immediately terminating his contract. He last month told the parliamentary committing investigating wrongdoing at Eskom that he would not leave the utility, famously declaring that his blood was "Eskom blue."
But in a new twist of events, Koko of Friday submitted a letter of resignation with immediate effect. He has been with the company for 23 years. Friday was the first day of his disciplinary hearing.
"The charges against Mr Koko related to grave misconduct. Mr Koko’s resignation was only tendered after the disciplinary hearing into these charges had commenced. Eskom would have preferred to continue with the disciplinary process so that Mr Koko could be held to account for any proven wrong-doing. Eskom however accepted that this practically could not be pursued in light of clear legal precedent that a resignation by an employee unilaterally terminates the employment relationship.
"Eskom has as result accepted Mr Koko’s resignation with immediate effect, however reserves all its rights to institute legal action in respect of any damages Eskom has suffered arising from Mr Koko’s actions at Eskom and to enforce its legal rights under the Pension Funds Act," Eskom said in a statement.
Eskom said its board would root out malfeasance and maladministration and restore transparent and effective governance. "As indicated at the Interim results presentation, a key focus for the new board has been addressing governance related matters as a matter of urgency and the termination of Eskom’s employment relationship with Mr Koko today is a critical step in the journey of renewal, inculcating business discipline and accountability," Eskom said.
Koko yesterday (Sunday) said his family had pressured him to leave the power utility in light of the steps to remove him. He, however, said he was not guilty of a of the charges leveled against him. "Prior to submitting my letter of resignation, I went to the disciplinary hearing and pleaded not guilty to all the charges," he said. He said he decided to leave because Eskom was determined to terminate his employment. "They were going to find something else. They will do anything to get rid of me," he said.
He said his immediate priority was to spend more time with his family. "I want to get closer to my family," he said.
- BUSINESS REPORT