Former Eskom Officials Eyeing The ‘Most Impossible’ CEO Job In Africa

By  |  August 15, 2019

Despite the good perks that come with being a CEO, the position can be a tough one considering if you fail to perform, the company suffers. And worse, being the head of a South African corporate at the moment can prove to be tough owing to the challenging economic environment.

Eskom the state power utility which is debt-ridden has for a long time been dependent on government bailouts. The power utility is currently looking for a new CEO after Phakamani Hadebe stepped down as head of the utility end of May.

While stepping down the former CEO in a statement said, “It is no secret that this role comes with unimaginable demands which have unfortunately had a negative impact on my health.”

An insider earlier claimed that Hadebe tried to hand in his resignation, but was convinced to remain.

Hadebe called it quits hardly a year since his appointment and was expected to lead a turn around plan following a quagmire of corruption that led the firm to its largest financial crisis.

The prospective CEO is expected to take over from the incumbent Jabu Mabuza, who was appointed as interim CEO as the ailing utility looks for a permanent appointee.

Among those eyeing the top position are former Eskom executives. One Andy Calitz, who began his career as an engineer at the state-owned entity did apply for the position.

Reports indicate that Dan Marokane, Eskom’s former head of group capital is also eyeing the top job.

A source who sought anonymity told Bloomberg that former CEOs Brian Dames and Jacob Maroga could also be considered for the post.

Having experienced working with the power utility, these contenders are well aware of how tough it is to turn around the business of loss-making utility to a profitable venture, but despite being in the know, they are still interested in leading the firm.

Being the CEO of Eskom is a demanding job, the company supplies approximately 95 per cent of South Africa’s electricity and currently has close to 48,000 employees.

The firm has continuously recorded losses which have had ripple effects in the economy. For the year ending March 2019, the embattled utility suffered a loss of ZAR 20.7 Bn, its biggest financial year loss. It is also struggling to service a debt of more than ZAR 400Bn.

Experts have warned that Eskom’s crippled financial and operational situation posses a huge threat to South Africa’s economic prospects.

As it stands, hundreds of thousands of jobs could be lost in the mining sector due to electricity tariff increases and interrupted supply or load shedding, the Minerals Council earlier warned.

President Cyril Ramaphosa recently gave the debt-strapped utility a three-year bailout worth ZAR 69 Bn saying Eskom is “too big to fail”. The government diverted money from the fiscus to enable the power utility service its debts, a move which could be risky considering the fact that the South African economy is barely growing.

The government gave the bailout on condition that progress is made towards restoring Eskom to a sound financial status.

Recently, an analyst, Peter Attard Montalto predicted that load shedding could return this August. He spoke to Radio 702 disclosing that the SOE has not been able to solve its major setbacks.

Being Eskom’s CEO has its upsides and downsides, it may come with a decent paycheck but being on the wheels of the company whose problems are so ‘loud’ will not be a walk in the park.

Featured Image Courtesy: Quartz

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