Koko’s reinstatement widely condemned
Publish date: 10 January 2018
Issue Number: 218
Diary: Legalbrief Workplace
The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has condemned the decision by the Eskom board to reinstate former acting CEO Matshela Koko and acting head of group capital Prish Govender to their positions, and threatened legal action over the ‘seemingly bogus disciplinary process’, reports The Citizen. Koko was disciplined for nepotism and failing to declare a conflict of interest regarding his stepdaughter’s ownership of shares in a company that was awarded more than a billion rand in contracts by an Eskom division he led. Govender was implicated in the scandal involving consulting firm McKinsey, where he was alleged to have paid money to the firm in a contract that had since been declared unlawful and void by Eskom. Koko would resume his duties as head of generation, while Govender would be reinstated as head of group capital after a ‘dodgy’ disciplinary process cleared them of all charges, Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said. Numsa repeated its call for the boards of all SoEs, and in particular the board at Eskom, to be scrapped. According to the report, it said the only way to guarantee good, clean governance was for the SoE board to be made up of representatives from labour, civil society, business and the state.
The reinstatement of Koko and Govender ‘flies in the face of the rule of law’, Business Leadership SA (BLSA) is quoted in a Fin24 report as saying. BLSA, an independent association whose members include the leaders of some of SA’s biggest organisations, in its reaction to the reinstatement news, said that this goes against the principle of holding executives accountable. It also weakens efforts by business and labour to work with government in restoring confidence in the SA economy, the forum said. The BLSA called for a complete overhaul of those Eskom board members and executives who are captured, in its view.
Meanwhile, the cash-strapped power utility is set to foot Koko’s legal costs, reports Business Report. In a closing submission to the chair of the disciplinary hearing Mzungulu Mthombeni, Koko last month said Eskom had failed ‘dismally’ to establish a prima facie case on any of the charges he faced. Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said the utility would settle Koko’s legal costs. ‘We have not been presented with the costs by Koko’s legal representatives but, if and when that happens, Eskom will pay the standard costs that we usually pay for such cases,’ said Phasiwe. The report says in his findings, Mthombeni said it would not be just, equitable and reasonable to expect Koko to carry the burden of a massive legal bill. He said Eskom should consider paying ‘reasonable’ legal costs to be negotiated by the parties.