Corruption Watch, in the wake of what it has called ‘longstanding poor governance’ at Eskom, has launched an application in the High Court in Pretoria, to have former Eskom board members declared delinquent.
In a statement, Corruption Watch says that the application, which is brought in the public interest in terms of section 157(1)(c) of the Companies Act 71 of 2008, focuses on the violation of fiduciary duties and gross negligence on the part of former board members and was served on the following parties:
Eskom Holdings SOC Limited, Mark Vivian Pamensky, Anoj Singh, Brian Molefe, Venete Jarlene Klein, Zethembe Wilfred Khoza and former minister of public enterprises, Lynne Brown.
David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch, comments: “State owned enterprises, and Eskom in particular, have been at the centre of the state capture conspiracy. Instead of protecting the interests of the company, Eskom’s erstwhile directors have abetted the lootingof the entity. We are determined that there should be consequences for their conduct. This application is one way of exacting those consequences and in ensuring that they are not afforded another opportunity to conduct themselves in a similar fashion elsewhere.”
According to Lewis, the purpose of such an application is to have those former directors who engaged in serious misconduct declared delinquent and excluded from holding directorships, in terms of section 162(5)(c) of the Companies Act, which aims to ensure that companies are managed by directors who are fit to occupy such a position. This is particularly important for state owned entities (SOEs) such as Eskom with its entire share capital held by the state and which, as our courts have held, are thus owned by the nation. The public has an interest in the prudent management of public funds and directors of SOEs are entrusted to act in the best interest of the company, and by extension the people of South Africa.
“Despite the removal last year of the majority of the then board of directors of Eskom and the removal of Lynne Brown as minister of public enterprises, the lack of oversight and poor management in the preceding years has left Eskom in an impoverished position and has contributed to South Africa’s economic instability. It has also emerged that Eskom was central to the state capture project and that directors abused their positions to enrich themselves and a host of third parties,” Corruption Watch states.
“The lack of proper oversight and poor management resulted in the downgrading of Eskom debt and contributed to the downgrading of South Africa’s sovereign credit rating. The effects of this are evident in the deterioration of the basic, essential service that Eskom is responsible for providing.
“Such misconduct by Eskom’s directors is a breach of trust and a dereliction of duty. Corruption Watch hopes, through this application, that the former directors will not be afforded another opportunity to abuse such a position.”