If you want pliable SOE board members who ‘behave’, then say so: Mavuso on Eskom showdown

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Eskom board member Busisiwe Mavuso.
Eskom board member Busisiwe Mavuso.
Gallo Images/Sunday Times/Masi Losi

Eskom board member and head of Business Leadership SA (BLSA) Busisiwe Mavuso said on Monday that she will not be treated like a child and asked to "behave", when CEO André de Ruyter and the board were being blamed for the utility’s historic problems.

She was talking to Radio 702’s Bongani Bingwa about her confrontation with Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) chair Mkuleko Hlengwa on Friday after she said that the ANC-led government created "the mess" that Eskom is in. She was then asked to leave the meeting.

"I am not going to be told to behave like I am a naughty 12-year-old school girl. For crying out loud, I don’t even talk to my 10-year-old son in that manner," she told Bingwa.

"If we want SOEs to be filled with people who will behave and who will be pliable(… ) we must say so. We must make those appointments accordingly. I do not sit in that Eskom board as an ANC deployee, as he [Hlengwa] puts it, apparently. It is that thinking that is problematic. When we get to those boards, we sit there as independent professionals."

READ MORE: Adriaan Basson | Busi Mavuso should be applauded, not muzzled

Friday’s meeting was a culmination of Scopa's visit to various Eskom facilities last week as part of its oversight duties.

Mavuso’s reaction was in response to criticisms by the committee, who were unhappy following its visits to problematic stations Medupi and Kusile, that someone had to answer for the delays there.

She said on Monday that Scopa had the right to summon anyone, and "if there are answers that you want about the R300 billion mess [of Medupi and Kusile], that cannot be answered by this board."

She said that if walking out of that meeting was "politics of the gutter", then "I wear politics of the gutter as a badge of honour."

Hlengwa told Bingwa that Scopa wanted answers to the Eskom board not meeting 14 of the recommendations the committee had made.

"Eskom is not performing and not delivering on it core mandate, which is to supply electricity to the grid. So who else do we ask? Those questions go to the board and the executives."

He said some in "their political capacity" agree with her that Eskom is an "ANC mess".

"That is not in dispute. She raised the right issue in the wrong meeting with the wrong people."

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