Brian Molefe takes the hot seat at Eskom

2015-04-19 15:00

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Brian Molefe, chief executive of Transnet, said he “could not say no” when asked to step in to provide leadership to crisis-ridden Eskom.

“I’m not in the habit of disrespecting leadership [of the minister],” Molefe told City Press.

“But I won’t be at Eskom alone. There is already a team there so I’m not too concerned about myself.”

On Friday, Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown announced that Molefe would take over the reins at Eskom immediately.

Molefe, who has a financial background, has worked at the top levels of the public sector – such as Telkom, the Airports Company of SA and the National Empowerment Fund – and has turned around a couple of state-owned enterprises.

He has been group CEO of Transnet since 2011, after serving as CEO of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) for about eight years.

“His experience in having turned around the Public Investment Corporation and providing stability at Transnet is a clear indication that Mr Molefe is no stranger in leading complex institutions,” said Brown.

“Given Eskom’s current financial and operational position, I am confident we will be able to draw on his experience and understanding of the financial markets.”

Molefe said: “I think people shouldn’t have expectations that are too high, but I will do my best with the team.”

The decision to hire Molefe was made in consultation with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and President Jacob Zuma.

“The biggest issue I want to tackle is load shedding; we need to find a way to fix it,” said Molefe.

“Then we also need to be able to sustain electricity generation by using coal, but in the long term we have to reduce our reliance on coal and explore alternative sources.”

Molefe said the public would be kept in the loop about developments.

“We will continue to be transparent about what is happening because that is a good thing and it should continue.”

After all the internal leadership drama at Eskom, which culminated with four executives, including CEO Tshediso Matona, suspended pending an inquiry – it was no surprise that Brown chose an outsider to lead the power utility in the interim.

Molefe will be at Eskom until the inquiry into the utility has been completed.

“The decision to institute an inquiry has created uncertainty about Eskom’s ability to ensure security of supply and the successful delivery of its build programme,” said Brown.

But she said the terms of reference for the appointment of an investigator had been concluded and that law firm Dentons had been appointed to lead the inquiry.

The minister also said she would soon be submitting recommendations to Cabinet on appointing additional members to strengthen and augment the required skills on the Eskom board.

Former SABC chair Ben Ngubane remains acting chairperson at Eskom.

Molefe’s move to Eskom leaves open the chief executive position of Transnet. The parastatal said in a statement, however, that the board would be making an announcement soon.

It is not clear what the price tag is on the Eskom job – probably one of the toughest jobs at the moment.

Colin Cruywagen, spokesperson for the department of public enterprises, said this was an operational issue and that Eskom would decide. Transnet’s 2014 annual report said Molefe earned a salary of R6?million.


Who is Brian Molefe?

Brian Molefe has worked in various capacities over the years and received his tertiary education at the University of South Africa, the University of London and Harvard Business School.

He has won awards such as the Financial services achiever of the year (2003), Investment specialist of the year (2004), Newsmaker of the year (2006), Empowerment Leadership Award (2007), Institutional Investor for the year (2008).


.?2011: Group CEO of Transnet Limited, and chairperson of the audit committee at Bitou Municipality

.?2010 to 2011: Managing director at Karibu Holdings

.?2008 to 2010: Director at Telkom

.?2006 to 2008: Director at Airports Company SA

.?2003 to 2010: CEO at PIC

.?2001 to 2003: Deputy director- general, asset liability management at National Treasury

.?1998 to 2001: Chief director asset management at National Treasury

.?1997 to 1998: Director responsible for intergovernmental relations at National Treasury

.?1995 to 1997: Chief director responsible for strategic planning at Office of the Limpopo Premier

.?1994 to 1995: Institutional specialist at Development Bank of Southern Africa

.?1991 to 1992: ANC administrator Source: whoswhosa

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