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2023-10-01 at 17:47 #422485Nat QuinnKeymaster
Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan has hit back at accusations of interference in the process to appoint a new CEO, stating the reported reasons for his rejection of the Eskom board’s proposed candidate were lies.
Gordhan provided this feedback during a recent interview with Rapport following reports last week about growing tensions between the minister and Eskom’s board about the CEO selection process.
People familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that Eskom’s board had reviewed 147 “high-calibre” candidates from around the world to take over as the utility’s new head.
Initially, Eskom told Rapport and City Press the board had provided the names of three potential candidates to the minister — with one preferred pick and two in joint second place.
However, two hours later, it retracted that statement and said the board had only provided one candidate’s name.
According to Gordhan, this violated the guidelines for submitting shortlists of prospective CEOs, as provided for in section 14.3.2 of Eskom’s Memorandum of Incorporation (MOI).
“When the board submitted the initial submission, upon conclusion of the selection process, it was fully cognizant of the provisions, which requires that the submission clearly profile three appointable candidates,” Eskom said.
“The recommendation was subsequently turned back by the shareholder [the government, represented by Minister Gordhan], who did not concur with the recommendation as it was deemed to not fully meet the requirements.”
Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Public Enterprises
In a statement responding to the previous reports alleging interference, Gordhan denied that he was stalling the process but was exercising his oversight responsibility as required by law.
He called the allegations a “politicisation” of the selection process. He said it demonstrated that efforts to clean up state-owned companies would always be met with resistance and political opportunism.
“We will not be deterred from exercising our oversight responsibility by people looking to deceive the South African public,” Gordhan said.
In his interview with Rapport, the minister again stressed he had a fiduciary responsibility as a member of the government.
“If the board does not do what it is legally supposed to do, I have a responsibility to educate, inform and ensure that they comply with the MOI’s directives. This is not interference,” Gordhan said.
The minister pointed out that any state-owned entity’s proposed CEO list had to include three names.
“I was simply telling the board that they had to do their job,” Gordhan said. “There was no veto by me; that’s a lie.”
Mpho Makwana, Eskom board chairman
Several reports have suggested there are five frontrunners for the job of Eskom CEO, four of whose names are publicly known.
These are former Eskom manager and chemical engineer Dan Marokane, NRS Association chair Vally Padayachee, former Eskom Rotek Industries director Ayanda Noah, and former Eskom CFO Paul O’Flaherty.
According to City Press, the board had recommended Dan Marokane as its sole candidate, but the ANC was unhappy about this as it was believed Marokane would not be influenced by political pressure.
Gordhan also called this “pure speculation.”
City Press also reported that the ANC wants Noah to get the position.
However, Gordhan is reportedly opposed to his, as she is allegedly close to Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe.
Gordhan told Rapport he was not aware of close ties between Noah and Mantashe.
He also denied that he and Mantashe were at personal odds over the use of coal or renewable energy to solve South Africa’s electricity crisis, saying this issue was part of a wider debate in society.
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