Eskom’s hunt for a new chief executive officer has hit a brick wall, with reports pointing to contradictions, miscommunication and political interference being at the core of the issue.
News24 reported this week that Public Enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan had rejected the Eskom board’s recommended CEO. Gordhan later issued a statement claiming that the rejection was based on the board only sending him one name when it is required by law to send three.
The City Press now reports that a statement from Eskom first indicated that the board had sent three names to Gordhan, but later the utility “corrected” this to match the minister’s statement.
Citing various insiders – both at Eskom and within the political sphere – the paper said that it is apparent that political interference is at play, and the rejection was based on preferred candidates not being selected.
According to the paper, the board had favoured former Eskom manager Dan Marokane, who also has support of the Eskom unions, while the politicians preferred Central Energy Fund board chair Ayanda Noah.
Gordhan has rejected the narrative about political interference, calling it “distortions and lies being peddled over the process” to subvert his responsibility to ensure it was transparent and lawful.
The minister instead blamed an unnamed ‘third force’ for trying to upset the process.
“The politicisation of this process shows that our efforts to clean up our state-owned companies will always be met with resistance and political opportunism. We will not be deterred from exercising our oversight responsibility by people looking to deceive the South African public,” Gordhan said.
It has been speculated that the entire process must start over, the paper said, leaving Eskom in a precarious position.
The embattled power utility has been without a permanent CEO after De Ruyter left the position earlier than expected in February 2023 following an explosive interview with eNCA’s Annika Larsen, where he accused unnamed senior ANC politicians of corruption.
Eskom CFO Calib Cassim took over as interim CEO, but his contract is expected to end in December.
Eskom is renowned for having a revolving door of CEOs, with 12 different permanent and interim CEOs leading the utility since load shedding commenced in 2007.
acob Maroga was the first Eskom CEO to see load shedding and left the group in 2009.
Brian Dames was the outlier and oversaw five years of no load shedding from 2009 and 2013, with rolling power cuts only kicking in again in 2014.
Collina Majila and Tshediso Matona were at the helm in 2014 and 2015, with controversial figures Brian Molefe and Matshela Koko then taking over in 2016.
The utility then saw Johnny Dladla and Sean Maritz take the helm in 2017 before Phakamani Hadebe and Jabu Mabuza took over in 2018 and 2019.
De Ruyter was appointed in 2020 and was at the helm when the country started to reach its highest levels of load shedding.