After failing to halt rolling electricity blackouts that have added to the country’s economic woes, Eskom suffered another blow on Friday, 10 January 2020 as the state-owned enterprise lost its chairman of the past two years. Jabu Mabuza resigned two weeks into renewed electricity rationing (known as load shedding), as the utility failed to keep the lights on.
This is also a few days after Deputy President David Mabuza (no relation), accused the utility of misleading the president and the country after Eskom said there would be no load shedding until 13 January.
More board members are likely to follow in Mabuza’s footsteps. Mabuza was the utility’s sixth chairman since 2008.
Sources close to Mabuza say his resignation was imminent even from December, as the utility’s board faced constant political pressure and criticism for Eskom’s inability to reliably supply electricity.
Five days ago, Andre de Ruyter became Eskom’s 14th chief executive since 2007.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced Mabuza’s resignation in a statement and thanked him, “for accepting accountability for events under his leadership”.
On 10 December 2019, Eskom told the president and government ministers that they would minimise the risk of load shedding during the festive holiday period, leading into the third week of January 2020. However, during the last week of December, electricity rationing resumed as Eskom lost about 15,000MW of generating capacity.
The utility blamed unplanned capacity losses and heavy rains in the coal-producing areas where its coal-fired power stations are located.
Mabuza was appointed to chair a new board of Eskom in January 2018, after the government sacked the previous board, led by Zethembe Khoza and Ben Ngubane. Many members of the executive management team were also sacked after persistent electricity rationing and evidence of corruption at the utility.
Ramaphosa said the government would announce a reconfigured board of directors in due course, “with the appropriate mix of the electricity industry, engineering and corporate governance experience”. BM