Eskom CEO hunt claims scalp of chairperson at power utility

Outgoing Eskom Chairperson, Mpho Makwana. Photo: Leon Nicholas.

Outgoing Eskom Chairperson, Mpho Makwana. Photo: Leon Nicholas.

Published Oct 9, 2023


Eskom Chairperson Mpho Makwana has resigned from the position, about a year after his appointment, amid a struggle over the selection of a CEO for Eskom in which Minister for the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) Pravin Gordhan accused the board of transgressing the Memorandum of Incorporation (MOI) by giving him only one name instead of three.

Makwana is expected to step down at an upcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM) later this month.

In a statement late on Monday, Gordhan, announced Mteto Nyati as the interim chairperson.

In a coincidental synchronisation, Nyati resigned from his position as an independent non-executive director of the Nedbank Group and Nedbank boards of directors with effect from Monday the 9 October. 

He also stepped down as a member and chair of the Group IT Committee, member of the Group Directors’ Affairs Committee, and member of the Group Risk and Capital Management Office.

Nedbank bank confirmed Nyati’s exit to investors via a Sens statement on Friday, adding that Nyati is stepping down “as a result of increased capacity constraints”.

"I thank the Minister for the positive amicable manner upon which we conclude my tenure. I am grateful for the opportunity afforded me by the Government of the Republic of South Africa to serve a second term as Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Eskom I wish Eskom and its people success and thank its committed stewards for their unstinting efforts to revive the utility," Makwana is quoted in the statement released by the Minister.

Eskom has been without a CEO since the sudden departure of André de Ruyter following an explosive TV interview in which he sharply criticised the ruling ANC and the employment contract of Eskom CFO Calib Cassim, whose term as acting CEO ends in December.

According to Gordhan, the board failed to present him with a shortlist of three names as required in Eskom’s Memorandum of Incorporation but sent him only the name of its preferred candidate, said to be former Eskom Manager Dan Marokane

Both the Minister and the outgoing Chairperson Makwana had been tight-lipped on the process to appoint the new CEO after the impasse the Minister blamed on the transgression of the MOI.

"We wish to thank Makwana for his contribution during the most difficult time for Eskom. Our efforts to stabilise Eskom and restructure it into three subsidiaries, generation, transmission and distribution remain on track. As Government we are committed to ensuring that Eskom has the right skills, talent and experience to support our pursuit of a more secure energy future for South Africans," Gordhan said in the statement.

Insiders have said Gordhan was reportedly unhappy with the recommendation because Marokane was a stickler for non-interference in the management of the utility.

The impasse on appointing a suitable candidate may result in the Eskom board having to restart the CEO recruitment process which has to be done by December when the term of incumbent interim CEO Calib Cassim expires.