Minister Brown gives strong advice to new Eskom board

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has instructed Eskom’s new board to take decisive action to address challenges of leadership, governance, ethics and liquidity.

The Minister on Friday introduced Eskom’s new board at a special general meeting (SGM).

“Among my first instructions to the board was to engage in the process of appointing a new Group Chief Executive as a priority,” said Minister Brown.

In June, new members were brought onto an interim board under the leadership of Zethembe Khoza, after the resignation of former chairperson, Dr Ben Ngubane. This month, two more board members joined the board.

According to Minister Brown, in the coming months, more board members with appropriate expertise from the business sector, will join the board. She said the appointment of the board in three phases is a pragmatic response to the well-publicised challenges Eskom has faced.

Cabinet this month approved board members including Chairperson 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.

“Several strong candidates have already been identified and expressed their willingness to rebuild the Eskom brand,” said Minister Brown.

Addressing the SGM at Eskom’s Megawatt Park offices in Johannesburg, Minister Brown said the finalisation of the investigation of all suspended executives is “of paramount importance to rebuild board reputation and restore investor confidence”.

Last month, Minister Brown testified in Parliament’s inquiry into Eskom. Parliament’s Public Enterprises Portfolio committee is probing allegations of corruption and governance issues at Eskom.

“I urge you to deal with all issues that led to a qualified audit opinion, as the company cannot afford a repeat in the current financial year,” said the Minister.

She impressed upon the board to observe the highest standards of integrity when executing its duties.

“Eskom’s board must be thick-skinned and steadfast. Eskom is one of the country’s economic powerhouses... You must not only maintain and observe the highest standards of integrity and probity in the execution of your responsibilities, but also contribute to the transformation of the supply chain to benefit more black South Africans,” she said.

She called on the board to focus on rebuilding systems of governance and ethics to decisively address, among others, internal control deficiencies and the audit qualification.

“Investigations and suspensions at EXCO level must be prioritised and finalised expeditiously. These issues are critical to improving the Eskom brand, investor confidence and performance of the company at all levels,” said the Minister.

Minister Brown said by the time Eskom’s regular annual general meeting (AGM) is convened in June 2018, the board would have ensured that investigative and disciplinary processes into alleged malfeasance involving some of Eskom’s senior executives have been completed.

Skilled board to steer Eskom in the right direction

Minister Brown expressed satisfaction with the skills of the board.

“I am satisfied that with the addition of business expertise in the first quarter of the new year, the board will meet the appropriate criteria. Let me add that prior to the addition of the two new directors, the combined skills and competencies of the board included leadership, energy industry expertise and business strategy and operations.

“With the addition of the two new directors, skills further strengthened include corporate governance, ethics, legal and compliance, financial management and human resource management and transformation.”

Minister Brown called on the board to fast track the utility’s turnaround plan.

“Your task is to restore the public’s confidence in a company that is the heartbeat of the country’s economy. It is now clear that a weak Eskom has a negative impact on the country’s gross domestic product. I therefore urge you to fast-track the company’s turnaround,” said Minister Brown. -

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