Three things Lynne Brown will have to explain

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown. (Gallo)

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown. (Gallo)

There are many amusing contradictions between the stories about Brian Molefe and how he came to resign/retire/be retrenched/return as Eskom CEO. But over 10 days his return to Eskom spawned three initially separate court cases already running to 500 pages of documents and a four-hour hearing before Parliament - all under oath, and so the threat of perjury.

And a careful examination of that evidence shows some remarkable lapses of memory and inconsistent statements on the part of Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown, which will take some doing to explain to the court.

‘I never knew about Molefe’s giant pension’
This week she explained that she only learnt in an emergency meeting this April that Eskom had agreed an “enhanced pension package” with Molefe. The sequence of events set in motion because she immediately objected to what amounted to a R30-million gift from Eskom to Molefe ultimately saw him reinstated as CEO

But 17 months before, immediately after the deal was reached, Eskom chair Ben Ngubane wrote a letter to Brown.
Its “regarding” line read: Retirement arrangements – Brian Molefe. The letter does not include a calculation of the cost to Eskom, but makes it very clear that the idea is take money from Eskom’s pocket and put it in Molefe’s.

‘Nobody ever told me Molefe had not resigned’
In November, Brown told the nation that Molefe had resigned from his post. She says it took five months for her to learn he had taken what turns out to be unlawful early retirement.

There is nothing whatsoever to suggest that Brown is not being truthful. But that would mean that among the entire board of Eskom and several of its top officials not one ever thought to point out her mistake to her. Instead those directors and officials were party to drafting a set of statements that somehow manage to suggest resignation without ever using the word. And there is also nothing to suggest that Brown, once she found out she had been allowed to labour under a misapprehension, sought to discipline anyone for it.

‘Everything was above board with Molefe’s pension’
On May 12, once Brown, Eskom and Molefe had reached a deal they thought would sort the mess out nicely, the minister held a press conference. There she explained to an increasingly befuddled public that Molefe’s (now revoked) pension had been within the ambit of the Eskom pension fund.

According to her own version of events, Brown had learnt the day before that Molefe’s pension arrangements had never been within the rules.

For more on the Molefe saga, see the Mail & Guardian on shelves tomorrow.

Phillip de Wet

Phillip de Wet

Phillip de Wet writes about politics, society, economics, and the areas where these collide. He has never been anything other than a journalist, though he has been involved in starting new newspapers, magazines and websites, a suspiciously large percentage of which are no longer in business. PGP fingerprint: CF74 7B0F F037 ACB9 779C 902B 793C 8781 4548 D165
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