Trevor Manuel for Eskom CEO?

Energy expert Chris Yelland has called for former finance minister, Trevor Manuel to take over the reins at embattled state energy company, Eskom.

This follows the resignation of Brian Dames as chief executive of the power utility in December last year.

Yelland pointed to unhappiness and turmoil at Eskom, speaking to Talk Radio 702’s Bruce Whitfield, highlighting labour issues and technical problems faced by the company.

“I see an Eskom at that is deeply troubled. I ask, is Eskom being run on a sustainable basis? Its running very close to the edge from a capacity point of view, and has been doing so for a very long time.”

In a newsletter published on Wednesday (8 January), Yelland posed the question: “Has anyone asked Trevor Manuel?”

According to Yelland, the company needs a leader with a “deep understanding of the South African economy, a deep understanding of the National Development Plan of South Africa, a deep understanding of how state-owned enterprises work, how local government municipalities work and how they are financed”.

“That person needs to understand finance; be it international finance, local national finance or corporate finance,” Yelland said.

He said that the ideal candidate would need to understand government and Cabinet. Someone who could look beyond Eskom, to the entire electricity supply.

“The person that comes to my mind, that meets all those requirements – or let’s say a lot of them – in my mind, is Trevor Manuel.”

Manuel is currently serving in the Cabinet of South Africa as minister in the presidency in charge of the National Planning Commission.

However, Yelland noted that Manueal’s post is coming to an end soon.

Yelland noted further that the resignation of Dames, three years after he assumed the position, followed the controversial axing of the previous CEO, Jacob Maroga, who also held the position for only three years.

Dames’ resignation also comes five months after the early departure of Eskom’s former finance director, Paul O’Flaherty.

“The early departure of Eskom leaders no doubt reflects some frustration at the lack of a clear policy direction, understanding and common purpose between the ruling party, government and Eskom, and the absence of an effective broader electricity supply industry leadership with a clear, consistent and inspiring vision,” Yelland said.

“The new leadership at Eskom will have its work cut out with a new and quite different mission – to unbundle and restructure both Eskom and the wider electricity supply industry, in order to meet the new needs of South Africa, raise capital, manage risks, increase diversity and maximise flexibility.

“Not an easy task. The future of South Africa may well depend on it,” Yelland said.

Meanwhile, also on Wednesday, Times Live reported that further load-shedding might be required by Eskom “for two weeks each month for the next three months” as a result of unplanned maintenance, citing insiders.

Eskom, however, denied that any formal load shedding would be required.

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Trevor Manuel for Eskom CEO?