Eskom needs a new board

Deputy President David Mabuza's comments about Eskom reveals that not everyone in the upper echelons of government and the ruling ANC is happy with the current Eskom board and how it is handling the electricity crisis, the writer says.
Deputy President David Mabuza's comments about Eskom reveals that not everyone in the upper echelons of government and the ruling ANC is happy with the current Eskom board and how it is handling the electricity crisis, the writer says.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER

Deputy president David Mabuza made an extraordinary claim yesterday that the Eskom board and the public enterprises minister lied to President Cyril Ramaphosa about the extent of the power crisis.

Seemingly responding to public criticism of the president and his promise late last year that there will be no loadshedding throughout the festive season, Mabuza said Ramaphosa had been misled when he made the promise.

Ramaphosa made the undertaking of no power cuts late last year after a crisis meeting he, Mabuza and public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan held with the Eskom board in which they were told that electricity supply would be stable until around January 13.

However, Eskom was not able to keep to this promise and started implementing loadshedding just a few days into the new year.

Mabuza's criticism of the board yesterday was pointed: "They've misled the president".

His comments reveal what has been an open secret for a while in political circles, that not everyone in the upper echelons of government and the ruling ANC is happy with the current Eskom board and how it is handling the electricity crisis.

It is tempting to dismiss Mabuza's criticism, as well as that of other leaders, as the continuation of the ANC factional contestation that has generally rendered Ramaphosa's administration ineffective.

But doing so would be to ignore the reality that the current Eskom board has failed repeatedly to show any leadership during the crisis. Given that loadshedding is expected to impact negatively greatly to the economy, registering another decrease in growth this year, we should be looking critically at those at the helm of the power utility to see if they are fit to lead us out of the crisis.

Did the board lie to the president? Probably not. But their promise that there would be no loadshedding, only to be proven wrong a few weeks later, shows that they have no clue as to what is really going on at the utility.

The president would be justified to ask for their resignations. He needs a new board to work with the newly appointed CEO. It should be a board dominated by people with experience in the sector.

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