Stop playing 'musical chairs' with SOE leadership – BBC

Former Eskom acting CEO Johnny Dladla.
Former Eskom acting CEO Johnny Dladla.

Johannesburg - The Black Business Council (BBC) on Monday called for the reinstatement of former Eskom chief executive Johnny Dladla and demanded that government stop playing 'musical chairs' with critical leadership positions. 

BBC president Danisa Baloyi briefed media on the outcomes of a meeting with the power utility, where its state of leadership was discussed.

Last week Eskom issued a statement indicating that chief information officer and group executive for information technology Sean Maritz would replace acting CEO Johnny Dladla. Dladla was appointed in June 2017, following the Brian Molefe fiasco.

Dladla is to resume his role as CEO of Eskom Rotek Industries.

The board has instituted a rotational approach to the chief executive position, which was approved by Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown.

On Sunday Eskom issued a statement calling for Maritz to be given a chance to demonstrate his leadership, following reports in the Sunday Times that Maritz had allegedly hired a friend without declaring the relationship to Eskom.

At the briefing chairperson Sello Rasethaba spoke out against government “meddling” in the affairs of state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

“The BBC believes that the South African government must promote the reform of SOEs instead of playing musical chairs with the leadership of SOEs,” he said.

“We urge the board of Eskom to reinstate Mr Dladla immediately and the immediate appointment of the new and capable board of directors.”

Rasethaba explained that the recent changes do not inspire confidence and have the effect of increasing damage to the economy.

Secretary general George Sebulela explained that Eskom needs to raise capital, and having stability makes it easier to raise capital. The destabilisation within senior executives, in the way in which has been done, will unsettle markets, he said.

Sebulela said the BBC will request an urgent meeting with the board.

Why change an acting position?

Baloyi explained that it was difficult to understand why Eskom would make a change in an acting position.

“The changes at Eskom are of concern to us,” he said. “The SOEs are very crucial and very important. The leadership at these institutions and all institutions in South Africa are critical to economic growth.”

Baloyi said that the BBC wants stability at Eskom. “Why remove someone with a month left? That baffles us.”

He emphasised the role of Eskom in shaping the economy. “He who controls energy, controls the economy. If energy is in some kind of ruckus, the economy somehow stumbles.”

Sebulela similarly questioned what a new acting CEO would be able to achieve before a permanent CEO is announced in November. “It is in the interest of business that the decision taken must be reversed,” he added.

When asked if Eskom recalling the funds paid to McKinsey and Trillian was enough to inspire confidence, Sebulela said that he assumed Eskom has gone through a process and determined that recalling the money would be an appropriate way to deal with the matter.

Eskom is recovering R1bn and R564m paid to McKinsey and Trillian, respectively.

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