Johannesburg - More than 200 senior Eskom managers expressed their concern over the lack of “decisive and bold actions against allegations of fraud, corruption and maladministration” in a letter to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The memorandum, obtained by EE Publishers, is dated 19 January 2018 and asks that "urgent and decisive action" be taken before the end of January or sooner, whichever date coincides with the publication of the power utility’s interim results and that three issues should be addressed.
I. The senior Eskom managers request that Ramaphosa ensure that legal processes are instituted against all employees who’ve brought the state-owned company into “disrepute” and they shouldn’t be given “golden handshakes” as this tarnishes good corporate governance.
II. They further requested that Ramaphosa ensure a credible board is appointed with an “exemplary track record, in large complex organisations”, to rebuild trust in the parastatal. The memorandum states that this has been a requirement from lenders, investors and ratings agencies.
III. The signatories also want the Eskom Executive Management team to be reconstituted with a new group CEO and CFO that will be “well received by investors and citizens of this country".
Governance at the centre of Eskom crisis
The memorandum is addressed directly to Ramaphosa (and not the government shareholder, Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown). The senior managers explain they chose this route “due to the lack of credibility and breakdown of trust” and the letter is a bid to save Eskom and South Africa’s economy and to honour the power utility’s 48 000 employees.
In the letter (published in full below) they detail that it has become extremely “painful” for them to watch the once regarded organisation dragged through reputational crises.
“It is clear that issues of governance, ethics and leadership are at the centre of Eskom’s current crisis and are having a devastating impact on Eskom’s liquidity and financial sustainability,” the letter states.
Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe confirmed that a regular meeting between senior managers and power stations officials took place on Friday and board members could attend as a courtesy. Brown was not present at the meeting.
Both Ramaphosa and Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba promised at a pre-World Economic Forum breakfast on Thursday that the issues at Eskom are being addressed as a priority.
New Eskom leadership
Eskom chairperson Zethembe Khoza confirmed to Fin24 on Saturday that he submitted his resignation to Brown on Friday and he's waiting for her to accept it.
"I think it's in [the] good interest of the country...after all the noise, it's better for me," he told Fin24 by phone.
It is still uncertain who will replace him. Both former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene and Telkom chairperson Jabu Mabuza are reportedly in the running.
Nene told Fin24 on Saturday that the matter of whether he’ll be appointed as Eskom chair is “still under consideration” and he hopes for a conclusion before the end of the day.
When contacted by Fin24 Mabuza, who is in Europe, said he was unable to confirm whether he’s been appointed as the Department of Public Enterprises should make the official announcement about Eskom board positions.
Meanwhile, the ANC’s national lekgotla is currently underway in Irene, Pretoria. Government officials, including President Jacob Zuma joined the national executive committee (NEC) members to map out strategies for the year ahead.