Over the past few months, keeping the lights on in South Africa has been a situation of constant struggle for Eskom. In recent months, the utility has limped from one crisis to the next, sparking concerns about its leadership’s ability to generate the power needed to keep the country running. From technical difficulties at power plants to silos collapsing, the power utility has seen its fair share of difficulties.
With the many things going on inside Eskom concerning the failing state of generators, power plants and a possible blackout, there has been a lot of hustle in Eskom to come to terms with the state of power in the country. Eskom chairperson Zola Tsotsi announced this morning, that CEO Tshediso Matona and other executives have been asked to step aside and a full inquiry is launched into Eskom.
Tsotsi said the announcement comes in the wake of a special board meeting which held yesterday, and that the executives have been asked to step aside, but clarification is still needed over whether these are suspensions.
“This was done in the best interests of our stakeholders, the inquiry will look into poor generation capacity, cash flow issues and other problems.” Tsotsi told the media
He assured the public that there is no intent or suspicion of wrongdoing and that the executives have only been asked to step aside to ensure their presence does not hamper the inquiry in any way. He said;
“It’s a suspension only in a way that the inquiry can happen without any influence. There is no sinister or hidden agenda by the board. We set up to proceed with the inquiry & get it going.”
The Eskom Board has today resolved to commission an independent inquiry 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”, added Tsotsi.