Brian Molefe was asked to move ship from Transnet into the power utility’s hot seat because of his experience in turning around the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and providing stability at Transnet.
Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown explained this to reporters in Johannesburg on Friday when she announced that the Transnet CEO would assume responsibility of Eskom as its acting CEO with immediate effect.
“[It] is a clear indication that Mr Molefe is no stranger in leading complex institutions,” she said.
“Given Eskom’s current financial and operational position, I am confident that we will be able to draw on his experience and understanding of the financial markets,” said Brown.
“This secondment is also considered in light of Mr Molefe’s extensive understanding of the public sector and the environment in which state-owned companies operate,” Brown said.
“As is evident from his CV, he has been involved with entities such as Telkom, the Airports Company of South Africa, the National Empowerment Fund and the Export Credit Insurance Corporation amongst others.”
The secondment of Molefe was made in consultation with various stakeholders including President Jacob Zuma, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, and the boards of both Transnet and Eskom.
Should suspended Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona return after the three-month inquiry, Brown said she would look for a different position for him within Eskom, Bloomberg reported. “I’d really like Mr Molefe to take over for a year,” said Brown.
Dentons to lead inquiry
Brown told media at Parliament on Wednesday that she would be taking immediate steps to stabilise leadership at Eskom both at an executive and board level.
“Eskom is a strategic asset and one of the major utilities on the continent,” she said. “It is therefore critical that Eskom operates optimally and contributes to the economic growth of the country.”
She said that the decision to institute an inquiry has created uncertainty on Eskom’s ability to ensure security of supply and successful delivery of its build programme.
“I am happy to announce that the terms of reference for the appointment of an investigator is concluded and Dentons has been appointed to lead the inquiry,” she said. “I will await a report from the board as this process unfolds.”
Boosting Eskom board
Sinethemba Khoza, who was acting CEO until Friday, will resume his role as a member of the Eskom board, said Brown.
To consolidate the leadership at Eskom, Brown said she would be submitting her recommendations to Cabinet on appointing additional members to strengthen and augment the required skills on the board.
She told media on Wednesday that she intends to appoint a chartered accountant and also expand the size of the board with people who have “fiduciary” skills.
In the meantime, former SABC chairperson Ben Ngubane remains acting chair of the entity.
Brown said: “The board stabilisation does sit with me. What I want to do in the next couple of weeks is strengthen the board… (and) bring more people on to the (10-member) board.”
Brown joked that she was keen to appoint financially literate people such as “an auntie from the Cape Flats” who have money sense and could make “R30 last for the whole week”.