Eskom board no-show, uninvited minister turn meeting into farce

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Andre de Ruyter, chief executive of state-owned power utility Eskom. Picture: Sumaya Hisham/Reuters
Andre de Ruyter, chief executive of state-owned power utility Eskom. Picture: Sumaya Hisham/Reuters

BUSINESS


With South Africa’s biggest state utility in crisis, one of Parliament’s most important financial oversight committees called an urgent online meeting with the company.

Eskom board members failed to log on, sending a text message to say they were tied up, and parliamentary staff forgot to invite Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.

You had chaos from the board side, which made it a farce.
Alfred Lees

The meeting was convened to, among other things, discuss two legal reports – one of which dealt with the conduct of chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer, and the other with a multibillion-rand fuel oil supply contract. Oberholzer, Eskom CEO André de Ruyter and several other executives did attend.

“You had chaos from the board side, which made it a farce,” said Alfred Lees, a member of the standing committee on public accounts for the DA.

“You couldn’t address issues, particularly the issue of the chief operating officer.”

Read: Why daring plans to stabilise Eskom may be too late

The need for urgency is self evident. Eskom is mired in corruption allegations, has debt of about R450 billion and is struggling to supply the country with sufficient power.

The committee adjourned and will try to meet again next week to discuss Eskom. – Bloomberg


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