Mboweni: I am certain Eskom will get a competent CEO very soon

2019-10-23 19:31 - Lameez Omarjee
Tito Mboweni, South African Minister of Finance wa
Tito Mboweni, South African Minister of Finance (RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images) ~ AFP

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has told Parliament that a new "competent" CEO for Eskom would be announced "very soon". 

The minister was answering questions in the National Assembly on Wednesday. Responding to a question by EFF MP Floyd Shivambu, who asked the minister if he believed interim Eskom CEO Jabu Mabuza was a suitable leader for Eskom, Mboweni said a new chief executive would soon be appointed. 

Mabuza was appointed acting CEO in July, after the utility's former head Phakamani Hadebe resigned due to the "unimaginable demands" of the job, which he said had adversely impacted his health.

While Mabuza, who is also the power utility's chairperson, was meant to hold the position of CEO on for three months, a new chief executive has not yet been announced.

Mboweni on Wednesday reiterated that Mabuza is only filling the role temporarily.

"Jabu Mabuza is the non-executive chair of Eskom's board of directors on a temporary basis. Given the recent resignation of the chief executive, the board has asked him to fill the position of chief executive officer until a new CEO is appointed, I understand very soon."

He said he was certain the new Eskom CEO would be "very competent", in order to "manage this huge organisation going forward." The finance minister would not be drawn into further questions, and said Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan was best positioned to field Eskom-related questions.

Mboweni's comments come after the National Assembly on Tuesday agreed to a special appropriations bill that provides Eskom with a R59bn funding lifeline over two years to service its debt. Treasury has said the funding comes with strict conditions that must be met before any money can be released to the power utility, which is facing mounting debt of R450bn.

Treasury-Director General Dondo Mogajane, meanwhile, has slammed speculation that government is considering taking on Eskom debt to help improve the power utility's dire financial position.

"I do not know anything about that. No one has said that… if we have anything to announce we will announce it properly," Mogajane told Fin24 by phone on Tuesday. He said Treasury is hard at work on the medium term budget policy statement.

Mboweni is expected to make announcements on Eskom when he delivers the mini budget next week.

Mini budget

The minister also answered a question posed by ANC MP Phoebe Abraham about what Treasury is doing to help expedite seven priority tasks outlined by President Cyril Ramaphosa in the state of the nation address.

These priorities include economic transformation and job creation, education, skills and health, consolidating the social wage through reliable and quality basic services, addressing spatial integration, and human settlements and local government and social cohesion and safe communities, and more. 

Mboweni said Treasury is mandated to fund the policy decisions in government within the context of fiscal constraints. He said the seven priority areas will be provided for in the budget. He asked MPs to wait for the mini budget where he would outline more details on funding.