LEAVE THE LIGHTS ON WHEN YOU LEAVE

Finweek English Edition - - Openers -

OUT­GO­ING CEO of Eskom, Thu­lani Gcabashe, has some un­fin­ished busi­ness to at­tend to be­fore he de­parts, no doubt with a large bonus so as to make his last year his high­est earner, which will mean that it may be above the R13m he earned for the 15 months ended March 2005.

There was an un­con­scious irony when on 6 Fe­bru­ary 2006, Gcabashe, ad­dress­ing guests at the launch of the At­lantis Open Cy­cle Gas Tur­bine project, re­marked: "We are in­deed hon­oured that you could join us to wit­ness the turn­ing of the sod in what would be the first power sta­tion to be planned and built by the demo­cratic South Africa."

One might sus­pect that, hav­ing failed mis­er­ably to de­velop the elec­tric­ity provider ad­e­quately, it would be a mark of em­bar­rass­ment rather than of self­con­grat­u­la­tion for this State en­ter­prise to al­low 12 years of democ­racy to pass be­fore at­tend­ing to the na­tion's press­ing long-term needs.

Our present dilemma might flow in part from Gcabashe’s con­cern for African, as op­posed to South African, de­vel- op­ment. In 2001 this was clear when he re­marked: "Eskom's Nepad (in case you have forgotten, this means New Part­ner­ship for African De­vel­op­ment) of­fice will stay fo­cused on sup­port­ing Nepad ef­forts aimed at build­ing Africa's power in­fra­struc­ture."

Re­fer­ring to him­self in the third per­son, al­ways an omi­nous sign, Gcabashe re­marked in his an­nual re­port: "At the launch of the United Na­tions Com­pact in July, 2000, Eskom's Chief Ex­ec­u­tive, at the in­vi­ta­tion (no­gal) of the Sec­re­tary­Gen­eral, Kofi Anan, be­came a par­tic­i­pant in the Global Com­pact...to pro­mote sus­tain­able growth and good cit­i­zen­ship through ...creative cor­po­rate lead­er­ship."

Ja, well, no, fine. But, hey, Thu­lani, aside from the power mess, how about the R129m swiped from Eskom in some scam in­volv­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of your an­nual re­ports? And there's also the mat­ter of a con­tract to build a power sta­tion go­ing to a group in which the ANC's in­vest­ment arm, Chan­cel­lor House, has a se­cret in­ter­est.

You need to leave your suc­ces­sor a clean sheet, you know.

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