Eskom reveals why Jan Oberholzer left

Eskom said Jan Oberholzer left the utility because the group executive for generation Bheki Nxumalo took over the Koeberg long-term operation and projects at Kusile.

Eskom announced earlier this week that it had parted ways with former COO Oberholzer by mutual agreement.

He 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, when Bheki Nxumalo was appointed Group Executive for Generation, Oberholzer took up a two-year fixed-term contract with Eskom. 

Eskom spokesperson Daphne Mokwena told the SABC that, at the time, it was important for Oberholzer to stay on to ensure continuation. 

Oberholzer’s former position of COO was made redundant by Eskom, with the Group Executive for Generation taking over those responsibilities. 

The former COO position was responsible for overseeing all of Eskom’s operations within generation, transmission, and distribution.

Mokwena said Oberholzer left the utility because “it is now seen that it is no longer necessary for him to continue with that contract as Nxumalo has found his feet and will oversee the Koeberg long-term operation and Kusile projects.”

“It is important that Eskom has one person that oversees all operations within the generation division,” she added.

Mokwena further justified the decision by explaining that prior to Oberholzer becoming COO, there was never such a position at Eskom. 

Previously, the Group Executive for Generation fulfilled the responsibilities of COO. Eskom is returning to this structure. 

“Eskom is confident that since this structure has previously worked, it will ensure its operations are run effectively and that load-shedding is ended”, Mokwena said. 

Revealingly, Mokwena also said, “When people come to a point where they want to leave an organisation, one cannot stop them.”

This indicates that Oberholzer initiated the end of his fixed-term contract, not the utility.

DA MP Ghaleb Cachalia revealed that Oberholzer told him he left of his own accord and was not pushed.

He said he decided to leave Eskom because he could add more value from outside the power utility than he could from inside.

Mpho Makwana
Eskom chairman Mpho Makwana

The Eskom board deliberated 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.

“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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