Suzanne Daniels via LinkedIn

JOHANNESBURG - Suspended Eskom head of legal and compliance Suzanne Daniels has questioned the real motives for her suspension, saying the charges against her were stage-managed victimisation. 

In her representations to former interim chief executive, Johnny Dladla, Daniels dismissed the charges, branding them spurious and lacking gravity to justify the suspension of an employee. She suggested that the charges were not the real reason for her suspension. She said Eskom had previously been “somewhat dilatory” in taking action against senior officials implicated in serious acts of financial misconduct. 

Daniels and the power utility failed to agree on reconciliation at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). 

Eskom spokesman, Khulu Phasiwe confirmed that the parties had failed to agree on conciliation. He would not comment on the next course of action. "Daniels is the one who took Eskom to the CCMA and it is up to her to decide if the matter should be pursued further," he said. 

Eskom had initially charged Daniels with misconduct relating to, among others, complaints from a number of employees in the legal department about her “destructive” management style, whistleblower report relating to payment of the team building event at Kievits Kroon, Pretoria, destruction of documents and processes followed during the appointment and departure of former chief executive, Brian Molefe and failure to respond to a Parliamentary question. 

The charges were hand-delivered to Daniels on October 2. She had until October 5 to respond to the charges. 

Daniels said there was no basis for her suspension. “It...appears that a decision has been taken by the company to take appropriate disciplinary steps against me, yet the broad vague and unsubstantiated assertions presented do not support the fairness, the rationality or otherwise of such a decision,” said Daniels. 

She said the charges were a stage-managed victimisation and an attack on her integrity “which is waged both internally and externally to seek to discredit the validity of the legal outcomes produced in my pursuit of protecting the best interests of the company as its Chief Legal Officer.” 

Prior to her suspension, Daniels had compiled an internal report which gave details on the role of Eskom executives in the Trillian/ McKinsey payment controversy. The document reportedly implicated suspended executives, Matshela Koko and Anoj Singh. 

In a new twist of events, Eskom’s interim chief executive, Sean Maritz slapped her with new charges on October 6 on his first day on the job. She was charged for, among others, failing to advise the Eskom board and management about the utility’s liability towards the payment of McKinsey and Trillian. 

Eskom accused Daniels of failing to declare any irregularity in the McKinsey contract.  

Eskom has demanded that McKinsey and Trillian repay R1.6bn that it paid to them. McKinsey last month said it would pay back its portion of the money if a court determined that the power utility had acted unlawfully. 

In one of the charges, Eskom said that in the report on the procurement of services and payment to McKinsey and Trillian - which was submitted to Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown - Daniels failed to give individuals implicated in the report an opportunity to explain allegations in the report.

-BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE