Eskom’s board given boost of power
PUBLIC Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown announced the appointment of four new members of the Eskom board on Friday in a move to stabilise the power utility’s leadership and improve its governance.
Brown appointed scientists Pulane Molokwane and Batjonile Makhubela, chartered accountant Sathiaseelan Gounden, and auditor Simphiwe Dingaan to the reconstituted Eskom board, saying they would add value to the state-owned enterprise.
Earlier this week, Brown announced that Zethembe Khoza and Johnny Dladla would be interim chairman and chief executive, respectively.
The minister said she had also added Pat Naidoo and Giovanni Leonardi to the board.
She said she would submit the names to the cabinet for approval in the next cycle and that the appointments would remain interim until the cabinet approved them.
“I believe the interim arrangements represent a new dawn at Eskom, which recorded positive results according to figures presented (at the annual general meeting) on Friday,” said Brown. Eskom is due to announce its results on July 12.
Brown said the past two months had been difficult for Eskom following the controversy around the handling of Brian Molefe’s departure and his two-week return to the parastatal before the cabinet ordered the board to rescind his appointment.
Molefe has since launched an unfair dismissal lawsuit against the board.
Eskom has been limping from one controversy to another since the release of former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report in November last year, with allegations that its board included individuals with close links to the Gupta family.
Brown, who has oversight responsibilities over Eskom, has also been sucked into the utilities controversies.
“Eighteen months ago, as a shareholder representative of Eskom, I responded to the fog of allegations by introducing new requirements for board members to verify that they were not conflicted,” Brown said. “This led to four resignations from Eskom’s board. But the allegations continue to bubble to the surface.”
On Friday, Brown said she had instructed the new board and the executive to focus on the management of contracts, conflict of interests and the quality of coal supplied to Eskom.
“Over the past several years, Eskom’s reputation has been severely compromised by allegations of impropriety and conflicts of interest. None of the allegations have ever been tested in a court of law.”
Brown, however, declined to divulge the contents of a forensic investigation into former acting chief executive Matshela Koko. Eskom instituted the investigation following allegations that Koko’s stepdaughter, Koketso Choma, benefited from contracts worth R1bn. Brown said it was up to the board to handle the matter.
Meanwhile, Dladla said the recent controversies had “somehow” dampened the morale at the company. “Collectively, as leadership within Eskom, that is a task the minister has given us to look into. I have not yet put in a solid plan, but top of mind is engaging with key stakeholders, one being organised labour,” he said.
Dladla, who has been with Eskom for 22 years, said his focus would be on “business matters”.
He said he planned to build confidence in the capital markets “based on the performance that we continue to show within the organisation. We are, of course, faced with a number of challenges, not only at Eskom but in the country as a whole.”