Eskom has appointed Collin Matjila as acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) with effect from 1 April 2014. The former CEO, Brian Dames, left the company on 31 March 2014, after a career spanning 26 years. The new acting CEO, Matjila, is currently a member of the Eskom board and is the former chairman of the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa). An Eskom statement explains that Matjila has a track record of leadership and management of large organisations, and a good knowledge of the electricity industry. However, doubts have been raised as to his suitability for the post.
EE Publishers’ Chris Yelland says that Eskom is facing enormous problems and that the acting CEO has no direct experience of running a major state-owned enterprise and business the size of Eskom, or managing projects of the size and technical complexity of Medupi and Kusile.
In addition, questions are being asked about the investment company Matjila previously headed, Kopano ke Matla, which, according to Business Day and Mail and Guardian, was apparently investigated by the Financial Services Board for financial irregularities leading to the subsequent withdrawal of Kopano ke Matla’s licence. The Mail and Guardian also reports that Cosatu was dissatisfied with the manner in which Kopano ke Matla handled the sale of its old headquarters and the purchase of its new one. According to Business Day , the National Union of Mineworkers, the biggest recognised union at Eskom, has called for Matjila to step down from the position of acting CEO because of unresolved matters relating to his tenure at Kopano ke Matla.
At a time when the country’s electricity supply is on a knife-edge with new power stations overdue and older ones being pushed harder than ever, it’s not very reassuring to have Eskom appoint an acting CEO who would appear to have questionable credentials. Eskom’s CEO needs to be accepted by industry, labour and the public as a leader in whom they can have confidence. Did the powers that be really think this appointment through?
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