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Eskom's Brian Dames resigns for 'personal reasons'

Lynley Donnelly

Power utility Eskom has been dealt another blow with the resignation of its chief executive Brian Dames, who will leave the company in March 2014.

Eskom chief executive Brian Dames has sited personal reasons for his resignation from the power utility. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

Power utility Eskom was dealt another blow with the resignation of its chief executive Brian Dames, who will leave the company in March 2014.

Eskom chairperson, Zola Tsotsi delivered the news during Eskom's interim results announcement on Thursday.

Dames had since 2010, alongside former financial director Paul O'Flaherty, played a key role in steering the company's mega-build programme – namely construction of the Medupi, Kusile and Ingula power stations – to bring much needed new electricity supply online. It is just over a year since O'Flaherty's similarly unforeseen resignation took place.

Tosti said that Dames was stepping down for "personal reasons". 

Dames, in response to media questions, denied he came under any pressure to step down.  

Emergency
The news comes at a precarious time for the organisation that just two weeks ago declared a system-wide emergency to avoid load shedding – requesting its major energy users to cut their power consumption by 10%.

It has also been experiencing ongoing difficulties with its contractors on the Medupi power project. Chiefly with Japanese owned Hitachi – due to defective welding on the power station's boiler – as well as French company Alstom, responsible for the stations control and instrumentation systems. 

At the results announcement, Eskom confirmed it was taking on a second contractor, which the Mail & Guardian understands is Siemens, to ensure delivery of critical boiler protection software for Medupi. 

Eskom said despite these contractual difficulties, it remained committed to delivering the first power from Medupi in the second half of next year.  

Public Enterprise Minister Malusi Gigaba noted Dames's resignation in a statement released shortly after the announcement. 

Gigaba thanked Dames for his service and directed the board to "expedite the recruitment process to find a suitable successor to ensure a smooth transition", the statement said. 

Eskom did, however, announce the long-awaited replacement of O'Flaherty – former group executive for customer services, Tsholofelo Molefe.

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