Johannesburg - Former National Energy Regulator of SA chairman Collin Matjila will be acting chief executive of Eskom when current CEO Brian Dames steps down next week, the power utility said on Thursday.

“Upon the appointment of the substantive chief executive Mr Matjila will return to his position as a non-executive director of the Eskom board,” Eskom said in a statement.

In December Dames said he was stepping down as Eskom CEO, reportedly because he needed a rest. Dames worked for Eskom for 26 years and was appointed CEO on July 1, 2010.

Dames' last day would be on Monday and Matjila would take up the acting CEO position from Tuesday.

Chairman of the Eskom board Zola Tsotsi paid tribute to Dames and his work at the helm of the power producer.

“Brian had successfully brought stability to Eskom and through his strong leadership, we were able to keep the lights on... Eskom is indebted to him for his life-long contributions to the company.”

Tsotsi said that Matjila's experience, including that of chairing the Eskom board's tender committee for almost three years, stood him in good stead for the acting CEO role.

“We are very excited to have Mr Collin Matjila as the acting chief executive of Eskom given his vast knowledge and experience of the electricity industry.”

The process of appointing a new chief executive was still underway, with an executive recruitment agency being appointed to help find the right person for the job.

Eskom said: “The Board took the considered view that while the company's executives are sufficiently competent for this position, their pressing priority is managing the highly constraint electricity system.

“The executives are however eligible and free to apply for the full-time position.”

Sapa