Eskom appoints Makgoba as interim chair after Mabuza’s ‘broken promise’_1

Makgoba’s appointment follows the shock resignation of Jabu Mabuza last week.  

The announcement was made by the Department of Public Enterprises (GCIS) on Wednesday evening 15 January, with the department saying the scientist and academic’s appointment is consistent with government’s plan to appoint a board with an “appropriate mix” of industry, corporate governance and engineering experience.

This is in line with President Cyril Ramaphosa revealing last Friday 10 January that government will be looking at making changes to the Eskom board as part of the implementation of a rescue plan at the embattled power utility.

Period of flux and blame at Eskom

From 6 January, former Nampak boss Andre de Ruyter has entered the ranks of the ailing parastatal as new Eskom CEO.

However, he got a warm welcome when a bout of unexpected load shedding plunged South Africa in darkness again despite Ramaphosa’s promise to the nation that there would be no load shedding between 11 December and January 13.

Eskom’s failure to keep the lights on was apparently triggered by the breakdown of a conveyor belt feeding coal from Exxaro’s Grootegeluk mine to the Medupi Power Station

Deputy President David Mabuza did not hold back and lashed out at Jabu Mabuza and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan on Thursday 9 January, saying they “misled the president”.

The very next day, Jabu Mabuza, who was appointed acting CEO in July 2019 after Phakamani Hadebe resigned as the utility’s executive head, came forward with his resignation, apologising for failing to meet his commitment made to Ramaphosa and South Africans.  

Searching in the dark for stability…

According to the GCIS statement, Makgoba’s appointment as interim chair was consistent with government’s commitment to good governance and the stability of Eskom. 

“The government is going through the process of putting in place a reconfigured board in line with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on Friday.”

Who is Malegapuru Makgoba?

Makgoba is the national health ombudsman who joined the Eskom board in 2018 as a non-executive director. and is the independent lead director. As ombudsman he released the Makgoba report into the Life Esidimeni scandal, having presided over the investigation. The 2016 tragedy culminated in the death of 144 mental health care patients and the exposure of 1 418 others to torture, trauma, and poor health outcomes. He is also well-known public health advocate and respected academic, and was formerly the vice-chancellor of the University of KwaZulu-Natal.