Brian Molefe has announced he will no longer be Eskom chief executive. Molefe released a statement on Friday.
“I have, in the interests of good corporate governance, decided to leave my employ at Eskom from January 1 2017. I do so voluntarily; indeed I wish to pay tribute to the unfailing support I have had since I took up office from the chairperson, the board and with those with whom it has been my privilege to work. Together we brought Eskom back from the brink,” Molefe said.
Molefe’s official term of employment will end on January 1.
The announcement comes after weeks of public outcry against Molefe following the release of the public protector’s State of Capture report. The report showed Molefe and Ajay Gupta, the eldest of the Gupta brothers, had made 58 telephone calls to one another between August 2015 and March 2016.
Investigators who worked on the report also found that Molefe had been at or in the vicinity of the Gupta’s Saxonwold home on 19 occasions between August 15 2015 and November 7 2015.
At a press conference shortly after the release of the report, Molefe tearfully denied the suggested visits to the Gupta compound, saying he had instead been visiting a shebeen in the area.
“My cellphone reflects that I was in Saxonwold 14 times, close to the head of proverbial goats. My cellphone reflects I was in the area,” said Molefe.
“There’s a shebeen there, two streets away from the Gupta(s). I will not admit or deny that I’ve gone to the shebeen.”
The shebeen has yet to be found.
In his statement Molefe continued to deny any wrongdoing on his part, saying that a commission of inquiry former public protector Thuli Madonsela recommended would have the final word on his innocence or guilt.
“The report did not make any findings. Instead it made what were termed ‘observations’, based, (the report acknowledged), on an investigation not completed,” Molefe said in his statement.
“‘Observations’ made in the report relating to, inter alia, my conduct, are in material aspects, based on part-facts or simply unfounded,” he added.
Molefe the ‘first head to roll’
Peter Attard Montalto, an economist at Nomura, said that the public protector’s report had diminished Molefe’s credibility.
“[Molefe is the] first head to roll. Put simply he had no credibility left after the PP report, regardless of them being proven or not allegations,” he said.
Montalto said that although Molefe had emerged from his former position at Transnet as a hero for investors, his implication in the State of Capture report has seen him fall from that status.
“In a way it’s sad, in a way it’s not. He ultimately was successful because he could navigate the patronage realities of the ANC but it has caught up with him.”
However, Molefe’s resignation is not as positive as people may assume, Montalto said, because the next chief executive of Eskom may simply fill Molefe’s shoes, instead of turning the state-owned entity into a reliable business.
“We need to understand, however, that the rot in Eskom goes much deeper – the whole board needs to be replaced and there are many others there also implicated in the PP report,” Montalto said.
“They will appoint someone equally as willing to facilitate rent extraction and ensure nuclear success and as long as the board is in place and other senior management nothing changes. If the CFO is appointed CEO, that is not positive and would be a sign of the status quo,” he added.
Molefe said in his statement that he will take a break before he decides what will come next in his career after Eskom.