Eskom announced on Monday that it had agreed with suspended chief executive Tshediso Matona “to part ways on an amicable basis”, but won’t disclose the cost of the agreement for now.
Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe told Moneyweb the parties agreed that the amount paid to Matona will be disclosed in terms of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), but only as part of its reporting at the end of the financial year. The year’s end is on March 31 2016 and results are usually only made public around June [that year].
Matona, a former Director-General of the Department of Public Works, was appointed as Eskom CEO late last year and only assumed office in September, shortly before a coal silo at Eskom’s Majuba power station collapsed unexpectedly, pushing the country into severe load shedding.
Former Eskom chairman Zola Tsotsi announced Matona’s suspension on March 12, together with that of Financial Director Tsholofelo Molefe, head of group capital Dan Marokane and commercial and technology executive Matshela Koko. He said while no wrong-doing was suspected on their side, the decision was taken to suspend them pending an investigation into the real state of affairs at Eskom, including its liquidity, poor plant performance, delays in the construction of its new power stations and the high cost of diesel.
Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown indicated shortly after Tsotsi’s announcement that she battled to get credible information from Eskom about the issues to be investigated.
The suspensions were widely criticised as unfair labour practice and Matona challenged it in the Labour Court. The court referred him to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), where the dispute was still pending.
According to Phasiwe the agreement with Matona did not address whether he will proceed with any action against Eskom or not.
The leadership instability at Eskom following the suspensions resulted in a credit downgrade by ratings agency Standard & Poor and Tsotsi resigned from the board after a motion of no confidence was reportedly instituted against him by fellow board members due to his handling of the matter.
In its statement on Monday Eskom again emphasised “that no misconduct or wrongdoing is alleged by Eskom against Mr Matona”.
Eskom said: “Mr Matona believes that the agreement to part ways is in the best interest of Eskom, to allow the Board to pursue its plans for the company under the current leadership.”
The inquiry into the state of affairs at Eskom will continue as planned, but Matona’s suspension falls away, it said. Phasiwe said Matona will not be called to participate in the inquiry. The other three executives however remain suspended and may be called upon to provide information, he said.
Deon Reyneke, sector head at trade union Solidarity said many questions remain unanswered. “If Matona did nothing wrong, why was he suspended and why did he agree to leave?” he asked.
On the other hand, he was given very little chance to show what he could do at Eskom and the suspension definitely harmed his reputation, Reyneke said. In light of this Matona may have insisted on a large payment, which would explain why Eskom is unwilling to disclose the amount, he said.