Lynne Brown, the once-respectable public enterprises minister, seems to have finally had her Damascene moment — too late.
Until now, Brown has gone to embarrassing lengths to defend Eskom’s bumbling board. Of Brian Molefe’s short-lived and ill-advised return as CEO, Brown said "Eskom will benefit" from his return.
Now, in a U-turn that would make even Donald Trump blush, Brown has thrown Molefe and the Eskom board that reported to her under the bus.
In an affidavit, Brown now questions the existence of a legal opinion used by the board to justify Molefe’s return, saying the board’s conduct was "suspicious" and she had "lost confidence" in it.
Brown says Molefe’s excuse for asking for R30m (that he was taking early retirement) was a facade. "No reasonable person in Mr Molefe’s position ... could have assumed that he would have been entitled to early retirement without checking the rules of the pension fund," she says.
That is self-evident. No reasonable person would have believed the ever-more outlandish excuses the board provided either. But the fact is, Brown was the political head of Eskom and she went along with their tenuous explanations. If anyone should have stood up, it was her.
Only, she didn’t. Had she shown real leadership, it would have saved the country — and her — a red face.