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Cabinet approves new Eskom board

Eskom’s current interim Chairperson Zethembe Khoza will continue to head the power utility’s board for three years following Cabinet’s approval of a new board.

In a statement on Friday, the Ministry of Public Enterprises announced that Cabinet has approved the nine member board that will serve a three-year term subject to an annual review.

The board comprises Chairperson Zethembe Khoza, Dr Pat Naidoo, Giovanni Leonardi, Dr Pulane Molokwane, Simphiwe Dingaan, Dr Banothile Makhubela, Sathiaseelan Gounden, (and new board members) Professor Malegapuru Makgoba and Professor Tshepo Mongalo.

Cabinet further expressed support for Public Enterprises Minister’s Lynne Brown’s strategy to recruit specialist business expertise to fill additional vacant board positions prior to the annual general meeting to be held in June 2018.

Minister Brown announced Khoza’s appointment – as interim chairperson – in June. Khoza was appointed following the resignation of Ben Ngubane.

Professor Makgoba is an internationally recognised public health advocate, and is the current Health Ombud of South Africa. He is a former Principal of the University of KwaZulu-Natal and is the current Deputy Chair of the National Planning Commission.

Meanwhile, Professor Mongalo is a legal practitioner and academic, expert in company law and familiar with the environment within which State-Owned Companies operate. He served as Vice-Chairperson of the Department of Trade and Industry’s Specialist Committee on Company Law.

An additional candidate, who has business strategy expertise and was approved by Cabinet, ultimately declined his nomination citing the highly-charged environment in which Eskom is operating.

“This situation reflects the difficulty the Minister has faced in putting together a strong board including people of the necessary calibre and leadership gravitas,” said the Ministry.

Memorandum of Incorporation (MOI)

In terms of the Memorandum of Incorporation (MOI) read together with the board appointment framework, Minister Brown is required to test the eligibility of directors through consideration of best practice – which includes a proper balance of skills, demographics, generation mix and tenure.

“The process of vetting board candidates, including the verification of qualifications, criminal and directorship checks, takes up to four weeks to complete. Thereafter, the internal administrative process is initiated that leads to a shortlist.”

The Ministry said Minister Brown expects the board to take control and lead the company in taking decisive action in addressing the challenges of leadership, governance and ethics.

“I will be instructing the board that the appointment of a new Group Chief Executive is an absolute priority,” said Minister Brown.

Issues to be addressed

The board must deal decisively, among others, in addressing the audit qualification to avoid a repeat, ensuing investigations and the suspensions at EXCO level must be prioritised and finalised expeditiously.

These issues must be addressed in order to improve the Eskom brand, investor confidence and performance of the company at all levels, said the Ministry.

“The Board and Management must take strides, within its control, to address the internal control deficiencies and the finalisation of Eskom’s own internal investigations.

The Board, to be led by Khoza, until the 2018 Annual General Meeting, will be further reinforced by filling the vacancies with appropriate expertise from the business sector.”

The board will be strengthened by Minister Brown talking to business organisations in order to fill the four vacant positions.

Minister Brown also thanked the other board members for steering Eskom through this difficult environment and ensuring that the company is stable and continue supporting the South African economy.

“These arrangements provide continuity at a difficult time for Eskom and I urge the board to be strong in the face of adversity and remain diligent. To maintain and observe the highest standards of integrity and probity in the execution of their responsibilities,” she said. – SAnews.gov.za      

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