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Eskom’s decision to reinstate former CEO Brian Molefe has been rescinded by the utility’s board. According to reports, Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown requested the reversal of his reappointment, and Molefe has embarked on legal action to declare his dismissal unlawful.

Molefe fights for Eskom position in courtMolefe has filed an urgent application with the Labour Court, alleging that his removal was as a result of politics and not misconduct. However, Molefe initially resigned from Eskom in November 2016 after he was implicated in the State of Capture report by former public protector Thuli Madonsela, which indicated that he was involved in the Gupta family trying to form a business relationship with the utility through Tegeta Exploration and Resources’ acquisition of the Optimum coal mine.

Molefe’s court action states that the minister had no right to fire him and that she did not give him an opportunity to defend himself. In doing so, Brown failed to abide by the Labour Relations Act. “Her conduct amounted to an unlawful repudiation of my contract of employment as she had no legal ground premised on either capacity, operational or misconduct reasons to effect my dismissal but was, in fact, motivated by political considerations, which did not amount to lawful grounds on any possible construction,” Molefe said.

His defence is that his original contract of employment was never interrupted, despite the fact that he became a member of Parliament for five months – which he could not have done if he was still employed by Eskom. In his affidavit, Molefe said that he was unaware that he could not retire at 50 as per Eskom’s rules and for this reason his reinstatement was fair. He said he had followed a resolution Eskom established in February 2016 that allowed employees to retire if they had worked at the company for 10 or more years.

The resolution had not yet implemented when he resigned and current Eskom rules state that an employee must be at least 55 to access early retirement benefits. “I therefore did not resign from Eskom with my departure having been on account of a puported ‘early retirement’ on terms which could not be placed into effect as a matter of law. My contract of employment entered into in March 2016, therefore, did not come to an end and I continued to remain employment as group chief executive in terms thereof,” Malefe stated in the court papers.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) approached the North Gauteng High Court last month in a bid to block Molefe from performing any duties as CEO, and he has now asked for his motion to be heard urgently because it could affect the DA’s application.

This move has made Molefe something of a running joke in the Twittersphere, with wags playing on the ‘resigned‚ retrenched‚ retired‚ rescinded’ chronology of events.

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/governmentza/26877393946

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