“It defies logic”: Appointment of new Eskom chair baffles critics_1

The new interim chairman of Eskom was announced on Wednesday evening, but he was hardly accompanied by fanfare. Malegapuru Makgoba has been asked to help steady a ship that’s well on its way to sinking, after getting the call-up during a trip to London.

Makgoba has won countless awards for his work in medical science – something he should definitely be commended for – but he has only served as an Eskom executive for the past 18 months. He’s a bit of a novice, in relative terms, and the decision has enraged politicians and energy experts alike.

Criticism of Malegapuru Makgoba’s appointment

Ghaleb Cachalia is the DA’s shadow minister for public enterprises. He says that the appointment “defies logic”, and does little to help find the solution South Africa’s greatest economic threat:

“The appointment of Professor Malegapuru Makgoba as interim Eskom Chair is regrettable and not what the struggling power utility needs to turn it around. His medical credentials notwithstanding, this decision does little to instill the required confidence needed in Eskom.”
“Makgoba is a trained physician, and whilst his medical credentials may be impressive, they are of no use in the power generation and transmission industry that is facing a crisis of note – the appointment defies logic and his previous roles in governance at universities has been questioned.”Ghaleb Cachalia

Energy expert Ted Blom also expressed his surprise at the candidate’s ‘lack of experience’:

Energy expert Ted Blom says the appointment of Prof Malegapuru Makgoba at #Eskom comes as a surprise, what the power utility needs is experienced individuals . #sabcnews #FullView— THE FULL VIEW (@FullViewSABC) January 15, 2020

Eskom gamble on inexperience

Malegapuru Makgoba will be replacing Jabu Mabuza, who quit his position last week following the dreaded return of load shedding. He and his colleagues – including Pravin Gordhan – were accused of misleading President Ramaphosa about the true extent of South Africa’s energy crisis.

Eskom, quite frankly, needs resuscitating. That might explain the decision to give this role to a doctor. But whoever takes on the position, highly experienced or otherwise, faces the steepest uphill challenge in Mzansi. Giving it to a bloke who doesn’t have a background in energy won’t do much to calm the critics.