Amid growing calls for Eskom’s board and its CEO André de Ruyter to be sacked over the intermittent load shedding, the power utility’s board chairperson has appealed for patience from South Africans as the country buckles under the pressure of rolling blackouts.
SA’s energy crisis
Professor Malegapuru Makgoba on Thursday said the board was not sitting on its laurels and doing nothing to resolve the energy crisis, saying according to expert advice, it was possible for load shedding to end within a period of two years.
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“This is not an unsolvable problem and the plan that Eskom and the Presidency have put together is the ideal way. And I think we need to be a little more patient and understand that it is not an event but a progressive increment in the elimination of load shedding,” Makgoba said in an interview with Newzroom Afrika.
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Makgoba, a medical doctor by profession, said the board had done a lot to improve governance at Eskom and he did not believe that the parastatal’s board required people with engineering skills to adequately do its job and end load shedding.
“This board, I think despite its deficiencies, it has improved the governance at Eskom. I’m quite comfortable that as a board we have discharged the responsibility and the mandate that we were given,” he said.
“We have a board of about eight people and this board has got five subcommittees and in total, the board meets 34 times a year.
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“So, we’re not sitting and not doing our work. It may not be adequate, but we’ve put a lot of effort in trying to steer the ship that is Eskom, of course in conjunction and collaboration with the executive,” Makgoba added.
Makgoba said he based his assessment of the performance of Eskom’s board on a report done by an independent organisation, he didn’t mention which, that evaluated the work of the board in the last two financial years.
‘An old aging car that requires repairs’
He said the board he leads inherited “an old aging car that requires repair and maintenance all the time”, referring to Eskom’s old power stations that constantly trip.
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“It was inevitable that the energy availability factor would deteriorate over time because the machines have been running at high rates. [And we’ve been] almost in the red for a very long time and they’re beginning to show the effects of that abuse that happened.”
Incomplete Eskom board
Makgoba also said he knew nothing about pending changes coming to the Eskom board following reports that Cabinet was considering changes to the board.
He did, however, admit that the board was facing several challenges with the shortage of members with various skills and expertise, adding that the board was short of about seven or eight members.
“I’m not aware of any impending changes, I’m just aware that the board has not been complete for a long time and we’ve made requests for the complementing of the board over the past two years.
“I’ve been in touch with the minister [Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan] that’s as much as I’m aware of. On the changes, I’m not familiar with that.”
The country has been experiencing stage 5 power cuts since Monday, with Eskom saying there was a possibility of load shedding being downgraded to a lower stage by Thursday.
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