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Opposition slams Zuma favourite in Eskom hot seat

Mar 31 2015 14:14
Matthew le Cordeur

Cape Town – Opposition political parties reacted with scepticism over the appointment of Dr Ben Ngubane as acting chairperson of Eskom, after the embattled chair Zola Tsotsi announced his resignation after a board meeting on Monday evening.

Inkatha Freedom Party Chief Whip Narend Singh said Ngubane’s stint as chairperson at SABC was problematic.

“We hope it [his appointment as Eskom chairperson] is an interim measure until they find a suitable position for the board as well as the executive management,” he told Fin24 on Tuesday.

“The whole of Eskom has to be cleaned out because it has become a merry-go-round for government at the expense of consumers, businesses as well as investor confidence,” he said.

Singh told Fin24 that government should “stop burying their heads in the sand” and accept that there is chronic mismanagement at Eskom.

“Sometimes we feel the Cabinet of the day does not understand that Eskom is owned by the taxpayer,” he said. “This arm’s length approach is not going to assist Eskom or the citizens of this country. It’s about time that the shareholder [government] gets its act together.”

Zuma wanted Ngubane for Eskom

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela was looking into “systemic governance failure at the level of the board” at the SABC when Ngubane resigned in 2013.

Then in December 2014, he was poised to replace Tsotsi as chairperson, but a political impasse resulted in Tsotsi remaining in the hot seat.

“It must not be forgotten that there was a tussle over the Eskom chairmanship in December during the ANC Lekgotla,” the Democratic Alliance (DA) said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The ANC NEC preferred former Eskom executive and electrical engineer, Pat Naidoo, while President [Jacob] Zuma favoured his friend, Ngubane,” the DA said. “The impasse was settled by retaining the incumbent, Zola Tsotsi, despite the utility’s dismal performance under his watch.

“This is a further sign that political interests dominate decisions around Eskom at a time when the efficiency and management of the utility needs to be a first priority.

Political interference questioned

“The hand of political interference at Eskom is now as clear as day. In order to appoint a Zuma acolyte in the top position at Eskom, President Zuma and his administration are willing to see Eskom lurch from disaster to disaster," the DA said. "The problems at Eskom require real concerted action and not distracting side-shows.”

Tsotsi was chairperson of the 13-member board since 2011, and is one of only two directors to have survived a board reshuffle in December, the DA said.

“He has been accused of irregular interference in the running of the company and is said to be constantly undermining executive managers,” the opposition said.

What other political parties and unions said

The EFF

The DA

The National Union of Metalworkers

The UDF

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