Eskom’s board given boost of power

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - SPORT - Siseko Njobeni

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.”

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