New Eskom board: Business groups happy with mix of skills

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 (PHOTO: Gallo Images/ALAMY)
(PHOTO: Gallo Images/ALAMY)
  • Following the appointment of a new Eskom board, Business Unity South Africa CEO Cas Coovadia said he was "happy with the mix of relevant skills and expertise".
  • Meanwhile, the Black Business Council said the first responsibility of the new board should be to release CEO André de Ruyter and Oberholzer.
  • The DA said the inclusion of the former Cosatu secretary-general was "a cheap attempt to fulfill the ANC's cadre deployment quota".
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Business Unity South Africa CEO Cas Coovadia is "happy with the mix of relevant skills and expertise" on the new Eskom board, amid some reservations from political parties.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan announced a new board on Friday. The board includes Nedbank chair Mpho Makwana, former MTN SA boss Mthetho Nyathi, and former Cosatu secretary-general Bheki Ntshalintshali.

South Africa is currently grappling with the longest stretch of load shedding on record.

READ | ANALYSIS | The new Eskom board's 75% challenge

Coovadia called on the government to give the incoming board the space to stabilise the entity and power supply.

"The appointment of this board is an important step in the right direction to ameliorate the immediate load shedding crisis, and to also guide Eskom's role in implementing the President's energy plan," said Coovadia.

Energy Intensive Users Group CEO Fanele Mondi said the previous Eskom board was heavily handicapped by vacancies and skills gaps. Mondi said the new board seemed "complete and well balanced in terms of its skills and experience".

"This is over and above equally impressive skills in the fields of engineering, finance, HR, law, and ICT. Equally important, in the light of the seemingly challenging execution of the Koeberg life extension, is the addition of nuclear experience in the boardroom that will hopefully bring a closer oversight of this important project," said Mondi.

The South African Photovoltaic Industry Association said in a statement that it is encouraged by the inclusion of experienced engineers with renewable energy experience and expertise on the board.

Black Business Council CEO Kganki Matabane said the first responsibility of the new board should be to release CEO André de Ruyter and Oberholzer, calling the two directors "incompetent".

Democratic Alliance MP Ghaleb Cachalia said Ntshalintshali's appointment to the board was "a cheap attempt to fulfill the ANC's cadre deployment quota" after he served as secretary-general of the ANC-aligned Cosatu.

"Although an attempt was made to bring some individuals with a heavy engineering background, the government did not go far enough and some are simply recycled executives with no engineering experience," said Cachalia.

Cachalia said declaring a national State of Disaster around Eskom would have empowered the board to make decisions free from red tape and consideration for cadre deployment. He urged the board to expedite power plant maintenance, secure short-term power supply, and end load shedding.

READ | ESKOM LIVE | Former Cosatu boss Ntshalintshali, Nedbank chair Makwana on new board

The Economic Freedom Fighters said in a statement that it did not believe the new board could resolve any of the trouble power utility's challenges, least of all his astronomical debt and enduring load shedding.

The EFF said at the heart of Eskom's troubles lay the lack of a coherent energy policy, the "irrational" imposition of Independent Power Producers, and "conflicted" strategic appointments by Gordhan as well as De Ruyter and Oberholzer, whom the statement called "clueless".

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