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Overhaul at cash-strapped Eskom as top executives bow out

Dec 23 2018 16:27
Adiel Ismail

An overhaul of cash-strapped power utility Eskom's top executive structure by regrading or combining roles has been concluded, a leaked document shows.

The process, which was approved by the board in November, will see a number of executives and general managers retrenched, according to an internal notice to staff that was leaked to the media.

Group Chief Executive Phakamani Hadebe stated in the three-page message that major changes include the reduction of F-Band, or executive, positions from 21 to 9. 

The changes come after a section 189 process, which refers to a section of SA labour law governing retrenchments and downsizing. 

Hadebe explained that under the group's previous structure, there were employees in executive posts who were not Exco members but were occupying senior general management occupational levels."This has since been removed with a view to reducing the levels of work and improving the spans of control."

"The new structure sees a reduction in direct reports for the Group Chief Executive to 10 in the short-term, which will reduce to eight when IT and Procurement are relinked back to the CFO in the foreseeable future," said Hadebe.


"This was not an easy process..."

"This was not an easy process", he said, adding: "It is crucial that we set ourselves up for the future, and I believe that the steps we’ve taken so far are already placing us on a path towards stability."

  • Positions that have been confirmed include: Calib Cassim as Chief Financial Officer, Jan Oberholzer as the Chief Operating Officer, Elsie Pule as Group Executive Human Resources, Molefi Nkhabu as the General Manager Audit and Forensic and Phillip Dukashe as the General Manager Group Capital (Medupi), and Kobus Steyn as the General Manager Group Capital (Kusile).
  • New appointments include: Leo Dlamini in a new role as General Manager of Corporate Strategy and Support, Segomoco Scheppers as the Group Executive Transmission and Andrew Etzinger in a new role as the General Manager Risk and Sustainability.
  • Those leaving Eskom's employ in the wake of the 189 process include: Mongezi Ntsokolo, who was the Group Executive Distribution, Ayanda Noah, who was the Group Executive Customer Services, Joel Martins, who was the Senior General Manager, Special Projects, Chose Choeu, who was the Divisional Executive, Corporate Affairs, Freddy Ndou, who was the Divisional Executive, Strategy Support, Louis Maleka, who was the Senior General Manager, Distribution, Willy Majola, who was the Senior General Manager, Generation, and Dave Nicholls who was Chief Nuclear Officer.
  • Vacant posts include group executives for Generation, Distribution, Capital and general managers for IT, Corporate Affairs, Africa Strategy and Chief Procurement Officer.

Energy analyst Chris Yelland described the structural staff changes as a "necessary step for the Eskom CEO to take strong action, particular as one of the biggest cost drivers of Eskom is staff remuneration that increased dramatically at a time when the production of electricity has declined."

A risk to the health of economy

Although Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe confirmed Hadebe has given letters to employees affected by the retrenchments, he would not be drawn into commenting on the names mentioned in the leaked document.

"Some of the people of list of retrenchments have received their letters and others have not," he said. 

The power utility, which has been described as a risk to the health of SA's economy by credit rating agencies, is saddled with R419bn of debt and is looking to the government for a bailout.

It was forced to implement load shedding in late November due to breakdowns and lack of spending on maintenance at power plants. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed an Eskom Sustainability Task Team to advise government on actions to resolve Eskom’s operational, structural and financial challenges in mid-December. 

The team is tasked with coming up with solutions to the various problems faced by Eskom, and consists of "individuals with extensive electricity, management and economic expertise", spokesperson Khusela Diko said.

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