Zuma friend takes the reins at Eskom

The DA has expressed concern over the appointment of Ben Ngubane as acting chairman of troubled power utility, Eskom, following the resignation of Zola Tsotsi.

It follows a press release by Eskom on Tuesday (31 March), stating that a discussion was held between Eskom’s board and Tsotsi, who subsequently agreed to step down as both a director and chairman.

“Mr Tsotsi has been chairman of the 13-member board since 2011, and is one of only two directors to have survived a board reshuffle in December. He has been accused of irregular interference in the running of the company and is said to be constantly undermining executive managers,” said DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises, Natasha Mazzone.

Ben Ngubane was appointed acting chairman with immediate effect.

The DA noted that a tussle took place over the Eskom chairmanship during the ANC Lekgotla in December.

“The ANC NEC preferred former Eskom executive and electrical engineer, Pat Naidoo, while President Zuma favoured his friend, Ngubane. The impasse was settled by retaining the incumbent, Zola Tsotsi, despite the utility’s dismal performance under his watch,” Mazzone said.

“This is a further sign that political interests dominate decisions around Eskom at a time when the efficiency and management of the utility needs to be a first priority,” the DA minister said.

The DA called on Minister of Public Enterprises, Lynne Brown to address Parliament and the nation on the “leaderless shambles that Eskom finds itself in”.

It called on minister Brown to answer the following questions:

  • Was she unduly influenced politically by the President to ensure Ben Ngubane became Chairperson of Eskom?
  • What is the status of an independent inquiry into Eskom’s affairs?
  • Was Zola Tsotsi’s resignation communicated to the Deputy President and the Eskom “war room”?
  • What is the value of Mr Tsotsi’s severance package and pension?
  • When will she engage in the process of appointing a permanent Chairperson?
  • Will the suspensions of top executives enacted by Mr Tsotsi, who presided over the collapse of Ekom, be reversed?

“The hand of political interference at Eskom is now as clear as day. In order to appoint a Zuma acolyte in the top position at Eskom, President Zuma and his administration are willing to see Eskom lurch from disaster to disaster.

“The brunt of this political wrangling and infighting is borne by ordinary hard working South Africans who have to deal with the daily upheaval that load shedding brings,” Mazzone said.

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Zuma friend takes the reins at Eskom