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Will new board lead Eskom to greener pastures?

Jun 23 2017 19:29
Yolandi Groenewald

Johannesburg - Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown's appointment of two “green” board members shows that she is ready for the state utility to take a second look at renewable power.

Fin24 understands that the minister was intent to balance the board with green experts that could bring new voices and views into critical discussions.

Brown said she specifically searched for new board members with “green energy experience”, indicating that Eskom in future might be more reconciliatory toward renewables and improved environmental management.

In the past couple of years Eskom top management has been outspoken about their beliefs that renewable power could not solve South Africa’s energy crisis, and that South Africa needed the baseload power coal and nuclear offered, to ensure its energy security.

The minister unveiled the new interim Eskom board on Friday afternoon, after a special general meeting. The special meeting followed Eskom's scheduled annual general meeting at Megawatt Park.

Brown appointed four new interim members to the board bringing it to nine. Only one board member was axed in the end - Chwayita Mabude. This after labour court papers revealed that Venetia Klein had resigned a short time ago. This means that of the original board in appointed in 2014, only four board members remained.

Board member Zethembe Khoza was last week made interim chairperson after Ben Ngubane resigned, citing personal reasons.

Joining the board is Eskom veteran Johnny Dladla, who was appointed acting group chief executive on Thursday. Eskom CFO Anoj Singh is the other board member.

Brown has also ordered the board to finalise the appointment of a permanent chief executive, EWN reported.

There should be 15 members, Brown told media on Friday. She was keen to appoint as many board members possible to ensure a diversification of views. Also Find24 understands that the minister sought a board that was untainted by the turmoil and scandals at Eskom.

The new board constitutes interim board members, until Brown's new appointees received Cabinet approval.

The minister said it has been a tough two months for Eskom, with leaders resigning constantly. “I indicated that it may be in Eskom interest to rotate the Board, but this would have to be balanced against continuity."

The new members are Pulane Molokwane, Simphiwe Dingaan, Banothile Makhubela and Sathiaseelan Gounden. She reappointed Zethembe Khoza, the current acting chair, Dr Pat Naidoo and Giovanni Leonardi.

READ: Brown unveils new interim Eskom board

Brown cited Dr Pulane Molokwane and Dr Banothile Makhubela’s green credentials, adding that she was encouraged by their experience in environment. Eskom has a number of environmental compliance policies including air quality monitoring and emission caps that it will have to fulfil.

“These two board members are young scientists,” Brown said.

Molokwane’s expertise in environment, corporate governance, and water and waste management will boost the current board. 

But Brown said she also appointed Molokwane because she had a nuclear background, which included the studying of nuclear fuel.

Energy specialist Makhubela also serves as a non-executive director on the Board of PetroSA. Brown valued her skills in research and chemistry.

The public enterprises minister also hunted for candidates with a strong financial management experience and Simphiwe Dingaan fit the bill, she said. “His skill in Corporate Financial Management, Auditing, Risk and Project Management is expected to add value to the Board.”

Dingaan’s career includes several corporate and entrepreneurial leadership roles, including leadership roles at Rand Merchant Bank and Mondi. He also founded Veraison (Pty) Ltd, an investment holding company specialised in the medical industry. His current directorships, amongst others, include Skweyiya Investments, Askhar and Dingaan, Dovetail Trading and Dirang Logistics.

The last member announced, Sathiaseelan Gounden, also bolsters the board’s financial credentials, with his accountancy background.  Brown said he had extensive auditing, accounting, forensics, consulting and tax experience and was an expert in financial reporting. Gounden attended the Harvard Business School and is an accredited mediator.

His knowledge in risk management, the Public Finance Management Act, and corporate governance would be welcomed, Brown said. 

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eskom  |  lynne brown  |  eskom board  |  renewable energy

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