South Africa Names New Board Members for Power Utility Eskom

Updated on
  • New appointees include nuclear physicist, ex-SAPO director
  • Parliament to start inquiry on producer in early August

South African Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown named four interim members to the board of the embattled state-owned electricity company Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.

The appointees are Banothile Makhubela, Sathie Gounden, Pulane Molokwane and Simphiwe Dingaan, who still require cabinet approval, Brown told reporters in Johannesburg after Eskom’s annual general meeting.

The new appointments happen during a turbulent period for Eskom. The ruling party forced the government to rescind Brian Molefe’s reappointment as chief executive officer after a graft ombudsman’s report and leaked emails indicated that he may have abused his position to the benefit of the Gupta family. Some of its members are friends with the president and in business with his son. Chairman Ben Ngubane was also implicated in the emails and resigned last week.

Molefe has challenged his dismissal. In answering court papers filed last week, Brown said she had lost confidence in the board. Parliament is investigating alleged irregularities at the utility that provides about 90 percent of the country’s power, with the inquiry due to start in early August. Johnny Dladla was appointed acting CEO Thursday.

Directors’ Profiles

Makhubela has a doctorate in chemistry. She served on the board of state-owned oil company PetroSA from 2015 until this year. The company has reported years of losses while paying bonuses to executives.

Molokwane is a nuclear physicist and in 2015 was appointed a member of the National Planning Commission, which developed the government’s economic blueprint. President Jacob Zuma wants the country to pursue a nuclear-power expansion plan, which has been criticized by opposition parties for being unnecessary and unaffordable.

Gounden, a chartered accountant, is a past president of the Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants of Southern Africa. He served on the board of the South African Post Office from 2014 to 2015, when the board resigned and the government appointed a new chairman to turn around the lossmaking organization.

Dingaan has worked as a trader at Rand Merchant Bank and paper maker Mondi Plc.

(Updates with details on board member in final paragraph.)
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