The civil rights organisation AfriForum urged Eskom today that the electricity giant’s new CEO must not be a political appointment and must not be subject to political interference. This follows after Phakamani Hadebe recently resigned from Eskom.
Dr Eugene Brink, Strategic Advisor for Community Affairs at AfriForum, says Eskom has had 11 CEOs since 2007. “Such instability is caused by both direct and indirect political interference and especially the damaging terms of political appointments, such as Brian Molefe, that paralysed Eskom as critical economic asset. Eskom’s workforce also increased with rapid strides since 2007 and at the same time weakened due to affirmative action, while their income and electricity generation did not keep up.”
According to Brink, Hadebe was a sound appointment but he still stood no chance to make a difference. “Firstly the Minister of Public Enterprises has the final say over important matters at Eskom and he must execute ANC policy and appease the party’s partners. Then, a Restructuring Officer was also appointed to take over many of Hadebe’s responsibilities and perhaps even curb his plans. Perhaps Hadebe was not the best technical appointment, but he knew Eskom is in deep trouble financially and that there is an accountability crisis at the electricity giant.”
Morné Mostert, Head of Local Government Affairs at AfriForum, says Hadebe’s successor will have countless problems. “The challenge of outdated power stations, further possible losses of about R20 billion in the last financial year, R419 billion in debt, a gross loss in expertise, enormous municipal debt to the electricity supplier and sorely needed maintenance count among some of these problems.
“This person must be a suitable technocrat and must be left to do his or her difficult job to turn Eskom around. Should Eskom not be turned around, Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa’s growth plans for the economy and job creation would amount to nothing.”