LATEST: Eskom suspends CEO ahead of inquiry into utility

zola tsotsi

Zola Tsotsi

CAPE TOWN – Eskom chairperson Zola Tsotsi announced on Thursday that CEO Tshediso Matona has been suspended as well as three senior executives and a full independent inquiry is to be launched into Eskom.Tsotsi told media at Megawatt Park that the four executives – including Matona, finance director Tsholofelo Molefe, group capital executive Dan Marokane and technology and commercial executive Matshela Koko – were suspended so that an inquiry could take place with unfettered access to Eskom.

The inquiry, whose members will be selected in coming days, will have full access to the suspended executives.

The inquiry will investigate the poor performance of generation plants, delays in bringing the new generation plant on-stream, high costs of primary energy and cash flow challenges.

“I believe this crisis and the suspensions at Eskom have everything to do with massive cost and time overruns at Medupi, Kusile and Ingula,” EE Publishers MD and energy expert Chris Yelland tweeted. “South Africans should brace for announcements by the Eskom board of massive further cost overruns at Medupi and Kusile in the days ahead.”

“There is nothing sinister happening,” said Tsotsi, who said he was just the messenger. “This is a fact-finding inquiry … which will last for three months.”

“If in the process of this fact-finding process we find that there is improper conduct, then we will have to address those things,” he said. “But we are not setting out with that in mind.”

Replacements announced

One of the current non-executive board members, Zethembe Khoza, will take over as interim CEO.

The other replacement executives were Nonkululeko Veleti (Finance), Abram Masango (Group Capital) and Edwin Mabelane (Commercial and Technology).

The interim replacements  “have been with organisation for a long time and will continue business continuity,” said Tsotsi.

“The scope won’t focus on structural change, but could have the potential to recommend that as its outcome,” he said. “The role of the shareholder supports this exercise.”

“The shareholder has no role, beyond supporting the need for us to do this.”

“Have we lost confidence in the current CEO? The answer is of course not.”

“There is no investigation. [This] implies an attitude of mind that there is blame to be associated here, hence we need to investigate culpability. There is no culpability here. It is to get facts and to help us think more clearly and address more succinctly the problems the organisation is facing.”

“There is no crisis.”

“The issue of the war room is not an inflexible environment. It is not just focused on Eskom. There are other energy issues that are dealt with in the war room. Eskom does attend the war room and does continue to give input into the war room. We must strive for alignment with the ideas that come out of the war room.”

Full statement:

The Eskom Board has today resolved to commission an independent inquiry on the current status of the business and its challenges. The Board, in its quest to address the current challenges faced by Eskom, has deemed it prudent to seek an independent view on the status of, among other things:

• The poor performance of generation plant
• Delays in bringing the new generation plant on-stream
• High costs of primary energy
• Cash flow challenges

“To ensure that this process is as transparent and uninhibited as possible,” said Eskom chairperson Zola Tsotsi. “The board has also resolved that four of its senior executives, including the Chief Executive, should step down for the duration of this inquiry”.

The executives who have been asked to step down while the inquiry is underway are Tsholofelo Molefe (Finance Director), Dan Marokane (Group Capital) and Matshela Koko (Commercial and Technology). One of the current non-executive Board members,  Zethembe Khoza, has been asked to assume the position of interim Chief Executive. Khoza will be supported by Nonkululeko Veleti (Finance), Abram Masango (Group Capital) and Edwin Mabelane (Commercial and Technology).

“All these senior executives have been with the organization a long time,” added Tsotsi, “and we are confident that they will maintain business continuity during this period”.

The Board also resolved that the independent inquiry be conducted by external parties, who will be selected within the next week. They will be given unfettered rights of access to all information deemed necessary for this probe to be successful.

The board has emphasised that this process is a critical step towards ensuring that the situation facing Eskom improves as expeditiously as possible. “To that end, we would like to assure our customers and employees that this was done in the best interest of all our stakeholders, and we hope to come out of this with a better grasp of all the challenges facing the business, and most importantly, with solutions”, added Tsotsi. – Fin24