Eskom U-turns on CEO Dan Marokane’s debt

The board of Eskom has made a dramatic U-turn on its claim for its CEO, Dan Marokane, to pay back the money the company paid for his legal fees during his appearance at the parliamentary inquiry in 2017.

This is despite the company having gone to the high court in 2019 claiming that Marokane, along with former board members of the company, had unduly and irregularly benefited from having Eskom foot their legal fees bill during the inquiry.

The company spokesperson, Daphne Mokwena, told Sunday World that the Eskom board had decided Marokane should not pay back a cent of the R70,000 the company demanded from him.

The genesis of the claim against Marokane and four former board members stems from the days of the Jabu Mabuza-led Eskom board, which pursued the five seeking to recoup funds for the financially ailing power utility.

The four board members who were pursued for also using Eskom funds for legal representation in the parliamentary inquiry were former board chair Ben Ngubane, Zethembe Khoza, Vanette Klein and Mark Pamensky.

Company chasing ex-board members

But in a shocking twist of events, Eskom has decided to give Marokane a free pass and instead is going ahead with its claim against the four former board members, some of whom have started paying back the money in installments.

“In as far as Mr Marokane is concerned, when he was subpoenaed to appear at the enquiry, he was no longer employed at Eskom.

The claim against Mr Marokane relates to approximately R70 000.00, which was expended by Eskom during 2017, to assist him with legal expenses for his appearance at the parliamentary enquiry into allegations of state capture at Eskom,” said Eskom.

“Mr Marokane is defending the court action and has not paid any money towards the claim. It is also to be noted that Mr Marokane raised the matter during his interview, and the matter was deeply engaged with by the current board during the selection process.

“The current Board, having considered the claim against Mr Marokane, did not consider it fair nor reasonable that Eskom should seek to pursue this claim against Mr Marokane and does not intend to pursue it further.”

R500k demanded from Pamensky

Against Pamensky, the power utility was not only claiming R310K it paid towards his legal bill to Stein Scop Incorporated but also claimed in court papers that Pamensky must also pay back R190,000 paid for his protection at his private home.

Eskom argued that the funds were not due to Pamensky as such, which was in contravention of the Companies Act as well as the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

“The payments were for private security services rendered at [Pamensky’s] primary residence and holiday homes and were private expenses of Pamensky and not expenses of Eskom,” the court application by Eskom reads.

Against Ngubane, Eskom is demanding R700,000 for legal fees he incurred during his appearance at the parliamentary inquiry.

This is while Eskom wants Khoza to pay back R210K, whereas it has fingered Klein for owing R600,000.

The public company claimed in the court application that the payments for the four board members and Marokane were against PFMA because they amounted to fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

“The payments were for legal fees incurred by defendants in appointing attorneys and counsel of their choice to help them prepare for the parliamentary inquiry and not expenses incurred in relation to defending litigation arising out of the defendants’ services to Eskom, and the expenses went beyond the insurance policy that Eskom had taken out to cover such expenses.”

Mokwena said Eskom was on the tails of the four former board members, despite Marokane being off the hook for the case.

“Some of the defendants have already repaid some of the amounts claimed against them. Each case shall be dealt with on its own merits.”

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