South Africa’s Eskom CEO resigns over anti-graft watchdog report

An Eskom logo is seen at the entrance of their head offices in Sunninghill, Sandton, February 24, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African state power utility Eskom Chief Executive Brian Molefe said on Friday he would step down in January, a week after he was implicated in a report by the anti-graft watchdog on allegations of influence peddling.

The report by the constitutionally mandated watchdog – the Public Protector – raised questions over coal deals between the Eskom and a company controlled by the family of Indian-born businessmen who are friends with President Jacob Zuma.

“I would like to reiterate that this act is not an admission of wrongdoing on my part,” Molefe said in a statement. “It is rather what I feel to be the correct thing to do in the interests of the company and good corporate governance.”

Molefe has been with Eskom since mid-April last year when he was drafted in from state rail freight firm Transnet to try to stabilise the troubled utility, which at the time was battling to keep the lights on in Africa’s most industrialised economy.

He was confirmed as CEO in September.

The report stopped short of saying crimes had been committed, and called for an inquiry to investigate allegations of corruption in Zuma’s government.

Zuma denies granting undue influence to the brothers, who run a business empire from media to mining, or anyone else. The Guptas have denied seeking influence.

Separately, the president office said it was concerned about “unwarranted public attacks” on Zuma by former anti-corruption watchdog Thuli Madonsela – who conducted the investigation – a day after Madonsela defended the release of an audio recording of her meeting with the president during her investigation.

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(Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by James Macharia)

 

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