/ 12 November 2009

Eskom: ‘We must move on’ after Maroga row

Acting Eskom board chairperson Mpho Makwana stated in no uncertain terms on Thursday that Jacob Maroga was no longer chief executive officer (CEO) at the parastatal – and would not be receiving a golden handshake or any sort of payment.

Read the Eskom statement (PDF)

Read Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan speech to Parliament

After two weeks of confusion over a leadership crisis between the board formerly lead by Bobby Godsell and Maroga, Eskom finally called a press conference — following repeated cancellations.

Makwana said the delay was caused by their attempt to resolve the dispute, and to make sure Maroga got a ‘dignified exit”.

But after two long meetings between Maroga and Makwana since the latter’s appointment on November 9, one of which lasted from 11am to 4.30pm, Makwana said the resignation was final.

‘I am satisfied where I stand. Jacob Maroga has resigned, the board has accepted it, and we must move on.”

He said there was no written resignation, but there was a record of a verbal resignation on October 28. ‘The law is clear in this regard,” he stated. ‘A resignation that is offered verbally equates to a written resignation.”

This flies in the face of claims made by the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) and the Black Management Forum (BMF) that there was no resignation letter and thus no resignation.

The Mail & Guardian reported that both Godsell and Maroga offered to resign at a board meeting in late October, but it was Maroga’s offer of resignation that the board chose to accept.

The power utility — which is facing critical financial problems — has been torn apart by the battle between Maroga and the board, formerly lead by mining heavyweight Godsell. His resignation in the heat of the battle on Monday was decried as a serious loss to the country by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

The ANCYL and BMF, however, came out in support of Maroga, who has been with Eskom for 15 years, saying his ousting was part of an anti-transformation and racist agenda.

Makwana said he could not comment on whether Godsell would be returning now that Maroga is out. He said that government as shareholder held the power to elect the chair of the board, while the board had the power to elect a CEO.

Makwana was appointed by Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan on November 9 to replace Godsell. He was formerly a director on the board.

It was up to Godsell to reconsider his resignation and negotiate with Hogan, as the government’s representative.

Meanwhile, the board had kicked off the process to find a new CEO, a process which they hoped to complete within 90 days.

Makwana would act as de facto interim executive chair — a chairperson with executive authority. ‘The organisation needs a single port of call to know where its leadership comes from,” he said.

  • Click here for a dummy’s guide to the Eskom leadership crisis.