Eskom’s Jan Oberholzer is gone

Jan Oberholzer

On Monday, 17 July 2023, Eskom announced it had parted ways with former COO Jan Oberholzer.

Eskom said Oberholzer was on a fixed-term contract to support the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station long-term operation (LTO) and Kusile Power Station projects.

Eskom thanked Oberholzer for his dedicated service, expertise and valuable contributions during his tenure and wished him well in his future endeavours.

In November 2022, Oberholzer announced that he would retire from the state-owned power utility in April 2023 after over 30 years of service.

However, in May, Eskom said Oberholzer would remain at the utility in a new role to oversee projects aimed at pulling South Africa out of a power crisis.

It is understood that he signed a contract to stay on, but not in his former capacity of COO which was made redundant by the Eskom board.

The former COO position carried the responsibility of overseeing all Eskom’s operations within generation, transmission, and distribution.

The announcement came hours after Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said he is “very, very worried” about the Koeberg refurbishments.

The refurbishment has experienced further delays, which may result in both of the nuclear power station’s units being out of service simultaneously.

Kgosientso Ramokgopa
Electricity Minister Kgosientso Ramokgopa

The Eskom board was also weighing whether to suspend Oberholzer for failing to red-flag Eskom’s controversial R250-million private security contract while he was COO.

Questions have been raised about the value and circumstances in which the contract was awarded to Fidelity Services Group.

Some of the security company’s rivals claimed they could have offered the same services at a fraction of the price.

It also followed an interview with Biznews in which Oberholzer warned that South Africa does not have a plan to avoid future load-shedding.

He said the government was first warned that South Africa would face an electricity shortage in December 1998 by the Department of Minerals and Energy.

They did not pay much attention to this warning, which caused the first load-shedding as predicted in 2007.

One would have expected the government to learn from its mistakes, but not much has changed fifteen years after the first blackouts hit the country.

Oberholzer told Biznews’ Alec Hogg that South Africa still lacks a comprehensive plan to prevent load-shedding.

“South Africa’s failure to develop a plan to avoid future load-shedding is concerning,” he said.

Oberholzer urged the government and Eskom to acknowledge their mistakes and for shareholders and policymakers to take responsibility for their choices.

“Without proper planning and a clear understanding of the future, we cannot ensure a stable energy supply for our country,” he said.


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