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Johannesburg - It’s a lethal cocktail. An organisation in a vulnerable state and a chief executive with a track record of misconduct.
Acting Eskom chief executive Collin Matjila was already on shaky ground.
Now the details of a report into Matjila’s actions at his former employer, Cosatu, has heightened the demands by trade unions on new Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown to remove him.
“If he can (do) it in one place, he will (do) it in another place,” said Dr Iraj Abedian, chief economist at the Pan African Investment and Research Services.
On Wednesday, The Star reported the details of a SizweNtsalubaGobodo report into the transfer of Cosatu buildings which found that Matjila was central to the potential loss of R16 million in the deal.
The Financial Services Board also found the Cosatu’s investment arm run by Matjila was implicated in “serious transgression and possible criminality”.
Abedian said the fact that Matjila was temporary would add to, not detract from, his ability to cause harm to Eskom as he would know he wouldn’t be there to face the potential consequences.
Energy analyst Chris Yelland said the scandal was very “disturbing and damaging” to Eskom, particularly as it was of a financial nature.
On Wednesday, both major trade unions at Eskom, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Solidarity, renewed their call to have Matjila removed.
“We urge (Brown) to pay attention and assist us in removing the secrecy around finding a new CEO of Eskom,” said NUM general secretary Frans Baleni.
Solidarity general secretary Gideon du Plessis said: “Eskom is going from one crisis to the next, and as a result, with all the challenges they have… they can not afford to have a credibility crisis in their leadership as well.”
Another key gripe is that a permanent chief executive was not found before former chief executive Brian Dames left the utility.
Public Enterprises spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete said the previous minister, Malusi Gigaba, had delayed hiring a permanent chief executive so as not to impose a person on the incoming minister.
Tshwete said Brown would need time to get to grips with the new information and would not be rushed into a decision.
Matjila responded to allegations by e-mail, saying he was not aware of any Cosatu probe into him and that he did not have a copy of the report.
Eskom had not responded to requests for comment at the time of publication, but in a media release last month, it called Matjila a candidate with suitable credentials.