JOHANNESBURG- Pressure is mounting on Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan to sack Mark Lamberti, the CEO of Imperial Holdings from the Eskom board.
Lamberti is embroiled in a scandal where was found guilty by the North Gauteng High Court of having racially discriminated against a black female employee, saying that she was only hired as a female employment equity candidate.
Reading the judgment, Judge Piet Meyer said: “There is a great public interest in ensuring that the existence of systemic discrimination and inequalities in respect of race and gender be eradicated. As blatant and patent as discrimination was in the days of apartheid, so subtle and latent does it also manifest itself today.”
He also found that Lamberti had impaired the dignity of Adila Chowan, a chartered accounted who occupied a senior position at the company.
Organizations such as the Progressive Professionals Forum and the Black Business Council have called for the removal of Lamberti as a board member at power utility Eskom, which is a State-Owned Enterprise.
Deputy President of the PPF, Kashif Wicomb said what is most concerning is the contradictory action by Government.
“The Government, on the one hand, is pronouncing on clean governance and reclaiming the reputation of Eskom yet, on the other hand, it appoints Mr. Lamberti an individual with a serious cloud over his head,” he said.
He added that Lamberti’s continued presence on the Eskom Board puts the reputation of Eskom into disrepute and undermines the struggle for non-racialism, non-sexism and right to dignity as fiercely fought by the people of South Africa over centuries.
“It is to that end that the PPF demands that Mr. Lamberti be removed from Eskom Board without any further delay and be blacklisted from serving in any strategic position in government or any government entities,” he said.
Lamberti was appointed recently to the board of Eskom as part of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s “New Dawn” were pledged to reform state-owned companies. Lamberti has since accepted the judgment and said he deeply regrets making the statements.
Kganki Matabane, the CEO of BBC said Associated Motor Holdings (AMH), which is the parent company of Imperial Holdings Limited needed to take harsh action against Lamberti and Ockert Janse van Rensburg, who is the company’s group chief financial officer for conspiring and discriminating against Chowan on the basis of her race and gender.
Commenting on the judgment, Matabane said: “There can never be any clearer message sent by a judge than this one. Discrimination based on race and gender should not be tolerated at any level in both corporate and society. Tough and visible action should be taken immediately against any offender, no matter his position in society”
He revealed that the BBC will engage with various key organizations to determine the possibility of triggering the consumer boycotts targeted at these companies and/or other companies that are doing business with Lamberti and his companies.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has also entered the fray calling for the immediate resignation of Lamberti from the Eskom Board.
Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, the national spokesperson of the EFF said during a Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprise oversight meeting at Eskom, the EFF raised the matter of his racist and gender-based discriminatory conduct directly with Lamberti.
“He made a commitment that if the court finds against him, he will resign with immediate effect. This was after the EFF raised the matter initially when Mr. Lamberti was appointed to the Eskom Board in January. Mr. Lamberti is not fit to hold any board position in our state-owned entities, particularly a position on the Eskom Board that has seen turbulences due to unprincipled characters in the recent past…Mr. Lamberti does not meet the prescripts of Eskom Code of Ethics or high ethical standard required of people in such important public positions,” he said.