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Fixing Eskom isn't black and whiteThis week Cabinet and the ANC threw their weight behind the much-awaited appointment of André de Ruyter as the new CEO of Eskom. The markets reacted with a healthy dose of surprise and scepticism about whether De Ruyter will be able to address the debt-laden firm's short-term challenges given that he has no experience managing a state enterprise.But no one was more surprised than the EFF, who labelled the appointment of a white man to the position as "anti-transformation"."[Minister of Public Enterprises] Pravin [Gordhan] does not believe that Africans can manage and build complex institutions. The only time he is comfortable appointing Africans is when he puts them in a position of permanent juniority and treats them like his lap dogs," the party said in a statement.The comment triggered a vigorous debate about race and the government's transformation agenda, but as analyst Mpumelelo Mkhabela argues in this week's briefing, missing from the debate has been a discussion about why black executives have failed at state enterprises in the past and are wary to put their hands up for the position now.Business Insider's Helena Wasserman goes on a fact-finding mission about De Ruyter's past experience to find out whether he is up to the task, and columnist Howard Feldman leaves us with a cheeky reminder that no one will be able see race or colour in the dark when there is no electricity.Enjoy the read.Alet Law
News24 opinions editor
Under ideal circumstances the race of a person appointed to a position of influence at a state-owned enterprise shouldn't matter. In this era of globalisation, where sought-after skilled people circulate globally, even the nationality of the appointee shouldn't be a big deal. It should only be about whether the appointee has the right skill, know-how and attitude to do the work. But we are not yet the ideal society envisaged in our Constitution.
André de Ruyter didn't have much of a honeymoon period following his appointment as Eskom's new CEO, amid union criticism and the utility's bond yields taking a hit in the wake of the news. Much of the criticism was centred on the struggling performance of Nampak during his tenure as CEO – with his track record at Sasol largely ignored.
André de Ruyter has a mammoth task ahead of him. It is vital that we allow him to focus on his mission and that we don't distract him with conversations that might be grounded in political expediency. It is vital that we keep remembering that in the dark, no one sees anything, let alone colour.
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