03 Collin Matjila ESKOM Acting CEO Picture:Antoine de Ras .

Johannesburg - Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba is racing against time as he attempts a delicate juggling act of his department’s parastatals with key outstanding issues just weeks before his term of office expires.

Gigaba, who was speaking on the sidelines of the Transnet Maritime School of Excellence’s first graduation ceremony held in Durban yesterday, said the question of who would fill Eskom’s hot seat would be answered after the May 7 elections.

Brian Dames resigned as Eskom’s chief executive last month. Eskom’s board said this week it was busy finalising its shortlist of candidates and would hold interviews soon. Collin Matjila is currently the acting chief executive.

“I am confident that in the next month or two, the board should be coming back to me and saying this is who they are recommending – so that we can begin the process of consulting with cabinet and make the announcement most probably in the first cabinet meeting after the elections,” Gigaba said.

The minister added that even though he was not certain who would be in the new cabinet, he was adamant that this decision would have been made by that time.

“Over the last few years, I have established a practice that there should not be any vacancy, especially at the top level of chief executives and chief financial officers, that remains for longer than three months. That practice will be complied with, if there is any delay it must not be the board that has not satisfied that requirement – it must [be] that we are going for an election and that there might be changes in the cabinet.”

Gigaba’s office and the board are facing criticism over the appointment of Matjila, following controversy during his tenure as chief of Cosatu investment arm Kopano Ke Matla. On his watch, the Financial Services Board withdrew Kopano’s employee benefits licence due to “serious transgressions and possible criminality”.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) wants Matjila fired.

However, Gigaba, who was scheduled to meet with NUM’s leadership over this matter, said people should not be making such noise about an acting chief executive.

“I do not think we should make an issue about an acting chief executive, when there is a process clearly under way – that will be spelt out in the memorandum of incorporation. The appointment of the chief executive and even the new acting chief executive is not made on the basis of nominations by branches, trade unions, the ANC and DA.”

Gigaba said that as much as the government valued opinions or concerns about appointments of chief executives, corporate governance processes must be followed.

“So we will be having discussions with NUM to try and understand their concerns and to put them at ease that this is not a permanent position but an acting chief executive.”

He added the cabinet would have the last word on who would be the new chief executive of the power utility.

On the issue of Transnet’s pipeline delays, he said he was still waiting for a full technical report from the parastatal.

One of the tanks connected to the multi-product pipeline at Island View terminal in Durban was reported to be faulty during tests early this week. Gigaba asked not to comment on an extension of the deadline, but stressed that the government had build the R23.4 billion fuel pipeline under duress.

“An investigation carried out by my office highlighted the fact that we build this pipeline under duress just like we did with Medupi power station. We did not have sufficient time and financing to plan and undertake all the technical specifications.”