South Africa’s ruling African National Congress has attacked its own government for its “lackluster and lackadaisical approach” to corruption allegations, after state-owned power company Eskom reinstated its former chief executive just months after he was caught up in an investigation by a state ombudsman.
Brian Molefe announced his departure from Eskom in November, a week after being named in a high-profile report into so-called “state capture” at the top of South Africa’s government and state-owned enterprises.
South Africa’s public protector accused Mr Molefe and the Eskom board of a “severe violation” of public finance laws, though Mr Molefe has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
However, Eskom’s board announced today that it had rescinded Mr Molefe’s application for early retirement, meaning he will return to his old employment contract.
Mr Molefe was seen as an ally of president Jacob Zuma, and became an ANC MP shortly after leaving Eskom. His sudden appointment prompted speculation that Mr Zuma would push for Mr Molefe to be given a senior role in the treasury.
Despite his being an ANC representative, however, the party attacked Mr Molefe and the Eskom board on Friday morning.
In a statement, the party described Eskom’s actions as “unfortunate and reckless”. It said:
None of the observations against Mr Molefe, so significant at the time, have been conclusively set aside and Mr Molefe’s own commitment to fully clear his name is still pending. The decision therefore to reinstate him in his former position without these matters being resolved is tone deaf to the South African public’s absolute exasperation and anger at what seems to be the government’s lackluster and lackadaisical approach to dealing decisively with corruption – perceived or real.
Parliament confirmed this morning that Mr Molefe had resigned from his position effective from Sunday.