The resignation of Jabu Mabuza as Eskom chairman comes at a critical moment

Mr Mabuza’s resignation presents an opportunity to appoint an Independent Chairman of the Board of Directors and a reconstituted board to interface with the various governmental, political matters and labour unions, allowing the executive team – which the newly-appointed CEO is no doubt assembling – to focus on the critical financial, operational restructuring and immediate challenges that beset the utility.

Bold steps are required to fill the new key roles at board level with the requisite competence at this critical hour. In parallel, the executive team needs to be bolstered from competent existing, but often hitherto side-lined employees. The time for cadre deployment is over.

Competent people abound locally and internationally. The DA is willing and able to assist in the generation of a list of individuals who could potentially fulfil these key roles.

Ideally, the new incoming chairperson should have experience in the design and implementation of multiple new business initiatives in the global infrastructure sector including electricity generation.

Experience in the area of negotiation and relationship management with industry regulators including Public Utilities Commissions (PUC’s), Independent Transmission Grid Operators (ISO’s) and the National Energy Regulators would be crucially important, as well as an unimpeachable record in sound and ethical governance.

Now is the time to act. These appointments should have nothing to do with colour, party allegiance or political pliability.

Any failure to act in accordance with these critical requirements will be yet another dereliction of duty which South Africa can ill afford. In the words of Seneca the Younger, “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. We urge the President and Minister Gordhan to act accordingly.

Eskom as an entity is archaic in its design and cannot continue in its current format. An urgent change in its structure is required. We cannot set up the board to fail.

We have repeatedly asked Minister Gordhan and the President for a meeting to sit around a table, as South Africans, setting politics aside, to discuss solutions to the Eskom crisis.

The DA’s Chief Whip in Parliament Natasha Mazzone, has tabled a Private Member’s Bill to the Energy and Mineral Resources Portfolio Committee. Minister Mantashe did not even bother going to the committee briefing on the Bill and ANC and EFF committee members continue to highlight their lack of understanding concerning changes that are sorely needed at Eskom.

We repeat our offer to meet on a party-agnostic basis to deal with the crisis. This now calls for strong leadership.