Eskom’s new chairman will be rendered useless – CEO

Eskom’s incoming chairman, Mteto Nyati, will be rendered useless by the toxic environment at the utility created by intense political interference. 

This is the view of Business Leadership South Africa CEO Busi Mavuso, who told 702 that despite the vast experience and capability Nyati has, he would be disempowered as Eskom’s chair. 

On Monday, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan announced that Mpho Makwana decided to step down as the chairperson and non-executive director of Eskom’s board.

Makwana previously served as Eskom’s acting chairman and acting chief executive while the corporation finalised the recruitment of a new CEO.

He will be replaced by Mteto Nyati. The department first said Nyati would be the interim chairperson, but it quickly corrected it to say he was the new chairperson.

Mavuso said she was not surprised that Mpho Makwana decided to resign as at Eskom, seasoned professionals are rendered powerless by the environment. 

Individuals take up board positions at Eskom with a clear understanding of how a company should operate and the roles of the CEO, chairman, board, and shareholders. 

“It does get frustrating when these lines are blurred at Eskom and other state-owned enterprises. You get put in an almost impossible position when you are expected to direct the ship but do not have control of the wheelhouse,” Mavuso said. 

“Being on Eskom’s board is like being put in a boxing ring with both hands tied behind your back.”

Mavuso said board directors are expected to account for the performance of Eskom but without any real power to make critical decisions as those are made by government officials. 

“The board is disempowered when making the most critical decisions they should be making,” Mavuso said. 

“This is the beginning of the dysfunction that besets these institutions.”

Mavuso said that despite Nyati’s experience and proven capability in leading large businesses, Eskom’s toxic environment will incapacitate him. 

“You are talking about how capable Mteto Nyati is. But, I promise you, Mteto will be disempowered by the environment. He will be rendered useless and will not be able to do what he is supposed to.”

The environment will not allow Nyati to make the decisions required to turn Eskom around, according to Mavuso. 


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