Newly appointed Eskom board chairperson Jabu Mabuza says that the stabilisation of the parastatal should not be taken lightly, and that "financial and business discipline" needs to be entrenched at board and executive level if the power utility is to be saved.
At the weekend, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa enacted sweeping changes at Eskom and fired the board. Mabuza, reportedly the well-respected chair of Business Leadership South Africa, and Phakamani Hadebe, former head of client at Absa Corporate and Investment Banking, have been put in charge of Eskom.
The new board also includes Mark Lamberti, CEO of Imperial Holdings, academic Professor Malekgapuru Makgoba and George Sebulela from the Black Business Council.
In a statement, Mabuza said: "A shared sentiment has been echoed within different platforms of society about the importance of working together to reform our economy through a display of ethical and inspirational leadership. I am therefore honoured to heed the call as a matter of national interest. The stabilisation of Eskom is of critical importance but is not a task that should be taken lightly. However, I believe that with the right people and support structures in place, we will find credible solutions to the complex challenges that need to be addressed to achieve sustained financial stability at Eskom, and by extension, alleviate the swelling debt burden on the fiscus."
Mabuza has vast experience as a director and chairperson of a number of boards, including Telkom South Africa; Anheuser-Busch InBev; South African Tourism, and the Casino Association of South Africa, according to the Mail & Guardian.
His appointment was widely welcomed. The Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) said Mabuza was an "ethical leader" and said that his chairmanship of the Telkom board proved will not allow any Cabinet minister to interfere with his functions as a company director."
Business Leadership South Africa chief executive Bonang Mohale reportedly said Mabuza was a man of "unimpeachable integrity".
Mabuza said the new board had yet to convene and needed the space to do so. He said transparent governance was key to turning Eskom around, starting with the board.
"I believe that part of any credible solution to stabilise Eskom centres [on] transparent and effective governance starting with the board, supported by a competent and strong management team to formulate and execute on a strategy that supports the board's mandate. With the right governance structures at a board and executive-management level, of priority would be entrenching financial and business discipline as a foundation to restoring the credibility and integrity of the utility with financial markets. These I believe are some of the key principles that are critical to stabilise, reform and ultimately set Eskom up for success," he said.