Brown to Eskom: I don’t care, just fix the mess

Public enterprises minister Lynne Brown says she is uninterested in the petty internal politics plaguing power utility Eskom and is more interested in how the board is dealing with the energy crises.

“I will not be interested in what internal politics happens around companies. Public or private. I am interested in bringing online the full power of Medupi by June,” she said.

Her comments come in the wake of reports detailing how some Eskom board members are planning to remove chairperson Zola Tsotsi.

City Press has reported that in a meeting on Thursday, all board members unanimously resolved to pass a motion of no confidence in Tsotsi.

The charges reportedly levelled against Tsotsi by his fellow board members included interfering with the executive and signing off certain documents on behalf of Eskom, thereby undermining the chief executive and other executive directors.

The board meeting on Thursday reportedly ran into the early hours of Friday morning and was marked by clashes between the chairman and other board members.

Clear mandate
Brown said she is waiting for the board to come to her with a formal letter indicating the move to oust Tsotsi. “I am waiting for the board to tell me. I have called the board and they will tell me in due course,” she told the Mail & Guardian on Sunday.

Brown said her mandate to the Eskom board was clear: Get the resources you need and fix Eskom.

But she did not show opposition to the removal of key players within the power utility. “In the process, if they must clean up as they go along, then they must do so,” Brown said.

According to City Press, after heated arguments Tsotsi was asked to leave the meeting because the other board members wanted to discuss the issue among themselves. An insider told the paper that Tsotsi was initially reluctant to leave the meeting, but was eventually overruled and had to leave the room.

“In his absence, they tabled a vote of no confidence in him. All of them want him out,” the source was quoted as saying. Brown said it was too early for her to make any conclusions but said her cry to the Eskom board – as was the cry of South Africans – was to stabilise Eskom and deal with energy generation.

“If we have an energy plan in place then we will know what Eskom can and cannot do.”

The minister said the board has to mitigate against breakdowns of power plants, plan for maintenance and ensure that maintenance takes place at reasonable costs – adding that the move from diesel to gas was an urgent and important one.

“For me it is very simple. Get the maintenance programme running. Make sure it is funded,” she said.

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