Mandy Rambharos moves to US non-profit in blow to Eskom

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Mandy Rambharos
Mandy Rambharos
  • Mandy Rambharos' resignation comes as South Africa was in talks with the world's richest economies to access $8.5 billion in climate funding.
  • She is joining a large US non-profit organisation.
  • Energy analyst Chris Yelland said Rambharos' resignation was a loss for Eskom and South Africa's hopes of making inroads in an energy transition. 
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As South Africa continues to suffer through a record-long stretch of load shedding, the turmoil at Eskom deepens.

The utility on Saturday confirmed the resignation of its respected head of its energy transition department, Mandy Rambharos. She was expected to play a key role in negotiations to secure more than R150 billion from rich countries, with Eskom hoping to get much of the money to fund the closure of its coal stations and new green energy projects.

Rambharos confirmed on Twitter that she is joining the Environmental Defense Fund, a large US non-profit. The organisation, founded in 1967, is based in New York.

Energy analyst Chris Yelland said Rambharos' resignation was a loss for Eskom and South Africa's hopes of making inroads in an energy transition. He said Rambharos provided decisive leadership, which was critical for the planning of Eskom's transition.

"I think it's a sad loss for Eskom. Mandy has played a key role and led the just transition capably. She has put in place a forward-looking vision for Eskom to transition towards being a utility of the future," said Yelland.

READ | SA makes progress on investment plan for COP billions, says Creecy

"She will be very hard to replace. She is a leader and a highly respected leader at that. She has instilled a vision that is about more than restoring Eskom to what it was in the past because there is no going back to the past," Yelland said.

Mentioning Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe by name, Yelland said there were still several influential people in the government who had a "backward-looking" approach to the energy transition and did not have "a view of what it takes to make Eskom a utility of the future".

He warned that without adequate progress in the energy transition, South Africa's exports would become more vulnerable to cross-border adjustment taxes, which will have an impact on the economy.

READ | Key Eskom exec quits ahead of crucial talks

Rambharos was also a member of the President Climate Change Commission. Spokesperson Blessing Manale said the commission could not immediately comment on whether she would remain available as a commissioner. Manale said the commission would likely discuss the matter with the Presidency soon.

Eskom’s board has been replaced this week, and the new directors have been handed the fate of CEO André de Ruyter, who is fighting for his job.

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