/ 19 May 2015

Lights out for Matona as Eskom takes the power back

Eskom will not disclose details of its settlement with suspended former chief executive Tshediso Matona.
Eskom will not disclose details of its settlement with suspended former chief executive Tshediso Matona.

Eskom and Tshediso Matona have agreed to an amicable split two months after the now former chief executive was suspended on March 12 pending the outcome of a three-month “deep dive” inquiry into the ailing state utility.

But the public will remain in the dark about any financial settlement reached with Matona until its next 2015-2016 financial report next year.

Eskom CEO is ‘weak’, say ex-colleagues

Matona had mounted a challenge to his suspension at the Labour Court, but on March 26 Judge Benita Witcher struck his application off the roll, leaving it to the CCMA to make a conclusive determination on whether Matona’s suspension was fair or not.

Witcher said the Eskom board was “not honest with [Matona]” when they suspended him in that he was not provided with the real reasons for their action.

“It is expressly noted that no misconduct or wrongdoing is alleged by Eskom against Mr Matona,” Eskom said. “Mr Matona believes that the agreement to part ways is in the best interest of Eskom, to allow the board to pursue its plans for the company under the current leadership.”

Settlement is confidential
Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe told Fin24 on Monday that the settlement with Matona was confidential and that any financial consequence of his departure would only be made public in the next financial report in 2016.

According to the Public Finance Management Act, Eskom must disclose the salaries and bonuses of its board members and executive, but they can save this information for the end of the current financial year, which has just begun.

Transnet chief executive Brian Molefe was parachuted in to Eskom on April 17 to help lead the state-owned enterprise out of its current financial and operational difficulties.

What now with Molefe?
A delayed build programme – involving Medupi and Kusile – and lagging maintenance has resulted in Eskom’s financial situation needing urgent intervention from Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown as well as the establishment of a “war room” committee run by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

It has also resulted in a policy of load shedding, whereby the country’s power supply is rationed to ensure a total blackout is averted.

Phasiwe said Molefe would remain acting chief executive for the three-month period as stipulated by Brown, but he added that the minister has said she might extend this term after the inquiry.

He would not confirm whether Molefe would now be appointed as chief executive officially and Brown’s communication office did not return emails with similar queries. – Fin24