Fired former nuclear CEO runs for office again
by Chris Yelland, managing director, EE Business Intelligence


Johannesburg, 6 September 2020

It has been reliably learned that Phumzile Tshelane, the fired former CEO of the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (Necsa) has re-applied for the position as CEO of the embattled state-owned enterprise.

Multiple sources, since confirmed by Necsa chairman David Nicholls, indicate that the interview process for selection of a new CEO from a list of nine candidates, which includes the fired former Necsa CEO, starts tomorrow, Monday 7 September 2020.

Other names on the list apparently include: Ayanda Myoli, the current acting CEO of Necsa; Ivan Radebe, MD of Pelchem and Ketlaphela Pharmaceuticals (both subsidiaries of Necsa); Thabo Tselane, chief technical officer of Necsa; and Loyiso Tyabashe, a senior manager: nuclear new-build, at Eskom.

However, the Necsa chairman insists that there can be no “short list” until after the interviews. “As I understand the Act on Necsa, the final approval/selection is by the minister, on the recommendation of the board. I presume that a ranked shortlist will be forwarded by the board to the minister in due course”, says Nicholls.

Nicholls previously acknowledged that the Necsa board had considered offering its former CEO a substantial sum in settlement of all issues and litigation after his dismissal by the former Necsa board following a disciplinary hearing chaired by Adv. Nazeer Cassim. It is understood that the board’s offer was rejected by Tshelane at the time.

There were then proposals for Tshelane to be reappointed as a consultant to Necsa, which the board authorised its chairman to present to Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe for approval. At the time it was suggested that this may some kind of settlement in disguise, and possibly also a way back in for Tshelane as CEO.

However, Nicholls confirmed today that Necsa has since settled the issue of the claim Tshelane had in relation to the prior termination of his employment as CEO of Necsa, but has denied suggestions mentioning a monetary settlement of R4-million to R6-million.

“I will not comment on the [settlement] amount, except to say it was nowhere near R6-million”, said Nicholls.

Asked whether it may be considered irregular or contrary to good corporate governance for Tshelane to re-apply for the position of CEO after receiving a monetary settlement following his earlier dismissal after a disciplinary hearing, or whether the settlement precluded his return to Necsa as CEO again, Nicholls would not comment.

However, the Necsa chairman did add that in terms resolving the matter of Tshelane's dismissal, it was seen as necessary to resolve this dispute before the process of appointing a new group CEO could be started.

Necsa is the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa, a state-owned enterprise undertaking R&D and commercial activities in the field of nuclear energy and radiation sciences, and the production of medical nuclear radioisotopes and associated services. Necsa is also responsible for processing source material, including uranium enrichment, and co-operating with other institutions, locally and abroad, on nuclear and related matters.

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