File photo: Bhekikhaya Mabaso/African News Agency (ANA).
File photo: Bhekikhaya Mabaso/African News Agency (ANA).

Government must reconfigure Eskom's board

By EDWARD WEST Time of article published Jan 21, 2020

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CAPE TOWN -  The government must not lose the opportunity of reconfiguring Eskom’s board with members that have the right financial and technical skills, Institute of Directors in South Africa (IoDSA) chief executive Parmi Natesan said yesterday.

She was commenting following the recent appointment of Eskom’s former lead independent director Professor Malegapuru Makgoba as interim chairman.

When Jabu Mabuza announced his resignation as Eskom chair, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko said the government would “soon announce a reconfigured Eskom board, with the appropriate mix of electricity industry, engineering and corporate governance experience”.

Ramaphosa said yesterday  (mon)in a statement: “Officials and managers must possess the right financial and technical skills and other expertise. We are committed to end the practice of poorly qualified individuals being parachuted into positions of authority through political patronage.

“One of the critical factors in the performance of our SOEs is the appointment of board members who have the necessary director competencies. At the same time, it’s important to ensure some continuity so institutional memory is not lost,” Natesan said.

The board-nominations process needed to be sound and transparent, and  good succession planning needed to be in place.

Eskom’s the board said in a statement on Sunday, following its first meeting under the interim chairman, that they remained committed to the turnaround plan.
Makgoba said he and the board welcomed Ramaphosa’s announcement that the board would be “strengthened and capacitated”, and the board believed this should be done “as a matter of urgency”.

Makgoba said the board and newly appointed Group chief executve André de Ruyter would soon deliberate on plans to address the challenges facing Eskom.

“We have made the diagnosis and now is the time for treatment, no matter how radical, how bitter or how uncomfortable to be administered going forward,” Makgoba said.

“The IoDSA is adamant that it makes good sense for the government to work closely with the board and specialist professionals to ensure that the individuals appointed have the skills that the board needs. These would include people skills, governance skills and sector-specific skills,” she said.

“Government should resist the temptation to select the new board members on its own—proper consultation with informed people will help ensure the right people are chosen and begin rebuilding public trust in the organisation,” said Nateson.

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