Telkom chairperson Jabu Mabuza will chair Eskom’s board as part of a host of measures announced on Saturday by government, to “stabilise management” at the power utility.
Government has also recommended that former Land Bank CEO and Absa Capital executive Phakamani Hadebe be appointed as Eskom’s acting group CEO, with immediate effect.
The board has been directed to appoint a permanent CEO and CFO within the next three months.
Government also wants all Eskom executives who are facing “allegations of corruption”, including former acting CEO Matshela Koko and suspended CFO Anoj Singh, to be removed immediately.
The statement makes it clear that this was an urgent intervention and followed a meeting between President Jacob Zuma, deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown and Minister of Finance Malusi Gigaba on Friday.
The intervention will be ratified by Cabinet at its next meeting.
“Eskom is critical to the South African economy. As a key enabler of economic growth and social transformation, any further deterioration of Eskom’s financial and operational conditions could have a severe impact on the country.”
Mabuza who is also the president of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) will be joined by 12 other board members, Sifiso Dabengwa, Sindi Mabaso-Koyana, Mark Lamberti, Prof Tshepo Mongalo, Prof Malegapuru Makgoba, Busisiwe Mavuso, Nelisiwe Magubane, Dr Rod Crompton, George Sebulela, Dr Pulane Molokwane, Dr Banothile Makhubela, Jacky Molisane
‘First step to restore confidence’
Deputy president and ANC president Ramaphosa is rolling up his sleeves at Eskom and will work with the Ministers of Public Enterprises, Energy and Finance “to deal with other structural issues, which include the funding model and other industry challenges”.
“We are confident this intervention will restore the important contribution Eskom makes to our economy. We are determined to address the damage that has been done to this institution and place it on a new path of efficiency and integrity,” said Ramaphosa in a statement
Brown when contacted by Fin24 downplayed the changes to the Eskom board and chairperson she’d appointed six weeks ago saying she had “always maintained new positions and experience levels would be required”.
“The board has been strengthened and I’m very happy,” she said.
Ramaphosa under pressure to act
More than 200 senior Eskom managers on Friday, expressed their concern over the lack of “decisive and bold actions against allegations of fraud, corruption and maladministration” in a letter to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
They asked him in the letter to ensure a credible board is appointed, a new Executive Management team as well as ensuring that employees accused of corruption face the law, and don’t receive “golden handshakes”.
Both Ramaphosa and Gigaba promised at a pre-World Economic Forum breakfast that Eskom was being dealt with as a priority.
Former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene was reportedly in the running, as well as Mabuza for the chairperson position. Mabuza, who spoke to Fin24 from Europe earlier on Saturday said he was unable to comment until the Department of Public Enterprises made the official announcement.
Earlier in the day Eskom chairperson Zethembe Khoza confirmed to Fin24 that he submitted his resignation to Brown on Friday and he was waiting for her to accept it.
“I think it’s in [the] good interest of the country…after all the noise, it’s better for me,” he told Fin24 by phone.