Embattled South African power utility Eskom has told four of its top executives to “step down” as an inquiry takes place.
The executives sent to the sidelines include CEO Tshediso Matona, finance director, Tsholofelo Molefe, and two others.
One of the current non-executive Board members, Zethembe Khoza, has been asked to assume the position of interim Chief Executive.
Eskom chairman, Zola Tsotsi made the announcement at a press briefing held on Thursday morning (12 March).
According to Tsotsi , the request was not made on the suspicion that any wrongdoing had taken place.
Tsotsi said that the process was not expected to last more than three months.
Matona was appointed CEO of Eskom less than six months ago, having assumed duty on 1 October 2014.
He was previously director general of Public Enterprises and is a former DG of Trade and industry, between 2006 – 2010.
Eskom put out the following statement on the matter:
The Eskom Board has today resolved to commission an independent enquiry on the current status of the business and its challenges.
The Board, in its quest to address the current challenges faced by Eskom, has deemed it prudent to seek an independent view on the status of, among other things:
- The poor performance of generation plant
- Delays in bringing the new generation plant on-stream
- High costs of primary energy
- Cash flow challenges
“To ensure that this process is as transparent and uninhibited as possible,” said Eskom Chairman, Mr Zola Tsotsi, “the Board has also resolved that four of its senior executives, including the Chief Executive, should step down for the duration of this enquiry”.
The executives who have been asked to step down while the enquiry is underway are Ms Tsholofelo Molefe (Finance Director), Mr Dan Marokane (Group Capital) and Mr Matshela Koko (Commercial and Technology).
One of the current non-executive Board members, Mr Zethembe Khoza, has been asked to assume the position of interim Chief Executive.
Mr Khoza will be supported by Ms Nonkululeko Veleti (Finance), Mr Abram Masango (Group Capital) and Mr Edwin Mabelane (Commercial and Technology).
“All these senior executives have been with the organization a long time,” added Mr Tsotsi, “and we are confident that they will maintain business continuity during this period”.
The Board also resolved that the independent enquiry be conducted by external parties, who will be selected within the next week. They will be given unfettered rights of access to all information deemed necessary for this probe to be successful.
The Board has emphasized that this process is a critical step towards ensuring that the situation facing Eskom improves as expeditiously as possible.
“To that end, we would like to assure our customers and employees that this was done in the best interest of all our stakeholders, and we hope to come out of this with a better grasp of all the challenges facing the business, and most importantly, with solutions”, Tsotsi said.