Eskom chairperson Zola Tsotsi steps down

2015-03-31 08:06

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Eskom chairperson Zola Tsotsi has quit, the power utility said today, after its board accused him of acting improperly by suspending the chief executive.

The shake-up is the latest in a long line of ructions to hit the troubled utility, which is battling to keep the lights on amid a funding crunch.

Eskom’s board said that with the departure of Tsotsi, who had dismissed the accusations as minor issues, the company could focus on challenges facing it and regain the confidence of its stakeholders.

“The board and the chairperson held a constructive discussion about charting a way forward for the power utility. Mr Tsotsi agreed to step down as a director and chairperson of the board,” Eskom said in a statement.

Eskom has implemented regular power cuts this year to prevent the national grid from being overwhelmed as it struggles with a backlog of maintenance on aging power stations while scrambling to bring much-delayed new ones online.

Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona and three other senior executives were suspended earlier this month while an inquiry was conducted into the utility’s operations.

Standard and Poor’s cut Eskom’s credit rating to junk status, saying the suspensions had led to a loss of confidence in the utility’s corporate governance.

“Mr Tsotsi indicated that the board had unity of purpose and that his decision to step down was in the interest of the company and the country and was done in order to allow the board to focus on the core issues facing Eskom,” the Eskom statement said.

Ben Ngubane, a current member of the board, has been appointed acting chairperson.

Matona has filed a complaint of unfair suspension with the CCMA.

He was appointed to his post in August last year and told Reuters days before his suspension that the utility was considering selling off some of its own assets, including an employee home loan book, to shore up its balance sheet.

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