Reinstated Eskom Group Executive for Generation Matshela Koko FILE PHOTO
JOHANNESBURG - As Eskom executive Matshela Koko was today expected to return to work after a disciplinary hearing cleared him, Business Leadership SA (BLSA) has slammed his reinstatement, saying it flies in the face of complying with the rule of law and holding executives accountable.

An Eskom disciplinary hearing has found Koko not guilty of the misconduct charges he faced and ordered his immediate reinstatement as head of generation at the power utility.

At the time of his suspension, Koko was Eskom’s interim group chief executive. Eskom initially placed Koko on special leave in May last year and later suspended him.

In a no-holds-barred statement, BLSA came down hard on Eskom and Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown for what it said was a “sham” disciplinary hearing. The business body said it was shocked and dismayed at Brown’s decision to approve Koko and acting head of group capital Prish Govender’s reinstatements.

BLSA said Koko was yet to answer satisfactorily to the misconduct allegations he faced. These included alleged failure to declare accurately and timely that his stepdaughter Koketso Choma’s company, Impulse International, was doing business with Eskom.

“Not only is his reappointment inappropriate but also diabolical and a snub to millions of South Africans who are victims of the state capture project which has diverted billions of taxpayers’ rand into private pockets,” BLSA said.

It accused Brown of poor grasp of governance and Eskom’s role in the economy.

Impunity

“She continues, with absolute impunity, to ensure that state-owned enterprises under her control are still systematically saddled with hurriedly promoted, usually untested and largely incompetent and often corrupt cadre deployments where performance is not even expected,” BLSA said.

It said Brown had failed to meet expectations of high governance standards and called for a complete overhaul of the Eskom board members and executives.

Iraj Abedian, chief executive of Pan-African Capital Holdings, on Friday was critical of poor governance and accountability at state-owned enterprises. “The state of governance at state-owned enterprises has sunk to such low levels that it is possible to get away with anything,” said Abedian.

When she unveiled Eskom’s board members in December, Brown said she expected the board to take decisive action in addressing the challenges of leadership, governance and ethics.

But Abedian said Brown should be judged by her actions and not what she said. He cited her misgivings about the parliamentary probe into state capture at Eskom. “I do not think the minister knows what she is talking about.” He said Eskom’s lenders were watching the governance missteps closely, heightening the risk of difficulty in accessing funding.

Meanwhile, the DA last month filed criminal charges against Koko. The party laid charges in terms of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), saying Koko might have used his position at Eskom to improperly benefit his stepdaughter’s company, in violation of the PFMA.

-BUSINESS REPORT