Eskom CEO appointment requires steel, not pliancy

Issued by Ghaleb Cachalia MP – DA Shadow Minister for Public Enterprises
06 Feb 2023 in News

Finally, as if we’re not facing an electricity crisis, an advert has been published – almost two months after the resignation of the incumbent André de Ruyter, to appoint a new Eskom CEO.

The position, as advertised, reports to the Chair and has to comply with government policy. Under recognised corporate governance practices, the Chair doesn’t get involved with the CEO’s responsibilities, which helps maintain clarity of roles and separation of powers.

Clearly this has escaped the attention of those who drafted the advert for the position. And the fact that failed government policy is responsible in large measure for Eskom being in the parlous position it finds itself appears also to have missed the attention of the drafters.

Or has it? Has the advert perhaps been drafted with a particular individual in mind?

The responsibilities of a CEO of an entity in crisis do not appear to be top of mind. Nor the stage of the company lifecycle which, apart from a focus on setting and executing organizational strategy, building the senior leadership team, making capital allocation decisions, setting vision, values, and corporate culture and communicating effectively with all stakeholders, requires a professional who has evidenced success in fixing damaged utilities charged with delivering electricity at low cost to he public.

AS the DA called for years ago, this needs the attention of the “Red Adair” of the electricity business.

This would require the skills of an engineer, vested with additional attributes of crisis management. Moreover it would require an individual who has the space and the wherewithal to stand up to the flawed dictates of a compromised shareholder – someone who has a practical, pragmatic orientation and is an analytical problem solver with both detail orientated and architectural, system-oriented thinking abilities.

This is not about “turnaround”; it is about salvage and the future of our nation, and a competent applicant would need to stand up to the interviewing panel as a first step in showcasing his or her ability to demand the degrees of freedom necessary to fix a sinking ship.

That requires steel and not pliancy, the absence of which will ensure continued failure as a tool of a government well versed in that capacity. In the unlikely event of this coming to pass, it would be best be if he brought his own coffee in a flask from home.

The DA looks forward to scrutinising the choice – when eventually made – which we will vet ruthlessly, as is required under the circumstances