Johannesburg – Brian Molefe’s announced return to Eskom as CEO is set to face a challenge on Monday morning with the Congress of the People (Cope) threatening to physically stop him from entering Megawatt Park, the power utility’s headquarters in Johannesburg.
This comes after Eskom on Friday confirmed that Molefe will return as CEO at the power utility despite stepping down to “clear his name” in November last year in the wake of allegations of possible impropriety levelled against him in the public protector’s report into state capture.
The public protector’s report raised questions about Molefe’s proximity to members of the wealthy, politically connected Gupta family, and that the Eskom leadership had stretched procurement rules to give a multi-million rand coal contract to the Guptas’ Tegeta Exploration and Resources company.
Cope spokesman Dennis Bloem said on Saturday his party was determined to show President Jacob Zuma, the Guptas, Molefe, and “any other Mickey Mouse” that it will not allow anybody to turn South Africa into a banana republic.
Bloem said discussions with other political and civic organisations to join in this action were “at an advanced stage”.
“Brian Molefe will not be allowed to enter any gate at Megawatt Park. Our people will guard all entrances,” Bloem said.
“It is totally unacceptable that this government is treating our people with disrespect and taking people for fools.
Cope wants to demonstrate through physical action that we have had enough of this blatant corruption.” Molefe should stay away from Megawatt Park to save himself an embarrassment, he said.
Molefe’s return coincides with the decision of acting CEO Matshela Koko to go on leave. This after the legal firm appointed to probe a possible conflict of interest against him has asked for more time to complete its investigation.
Koko is the subject of an investigation into allegations that his step-daughter was a director of Impulse International when it was awarded several contracts worth around R1 billion by Eskom.
Molefe’s imminent return to Eskom sparked widespread outrage among political parties and civic organisations, which said the move reversed government’s commitment to fight corruption. They called for Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown to dissolve the Eskom board.
On Friday, Brown said she believed Molefe’s return to Eskom was a “better value proposition to the South African fiscus than the previous pension proposal” of a pension payout of R30 million.
Molefe applied for early retirement, despite resigning after only about 21 months as CEO, and was about to lay his hands on the windfall Eskom in April when Brown objected.
Brown has reportedly been summoned to African National Congress headquarters, Luthuli House, later on Monday, where she will be told to overturn the decision to reappoint Molefe or to dissolve the power utility’s board.
Molefe is set to make his first public appearance as reinstated Eskom chief executive when he addresses the opening session at the African Utility Week conference and expo in Cape Town on Tuesday.