/ 21 October 2023

Makwana says he still has Eskom’s ‘best interests’ at heart

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Outgoing Eskom chairman, Mpho Makwana. Photo: Robert Tshabalala/Gallo Images

Outgoing Eskom chairperson Mpho Makwana said he left the utility amicably and still had Eskom’s best interests at heart.

Delivering a keynote address at the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) fundraising dinner on Friday, Makwana said he did not want any “noise” around his departure, admitting that he deliberately avoided giving media interviews to “avoid creating drama” and to afford his successor a seamless takeover.

“The task at hand is to ensure that a seamless transition occurs, so that my successor Mr. Mteto Nyati can lead the board and the more than 40,000 Eskom guardians to continue stabilising Eskom and staying the course of turning the tide towards 70% EAF availability by March 31, 2025,” Makwana said.

“Eskom will be best served by me stepping back from the media arena to allow the new chairperson space to settle in. I thank the minister for the positive, amicable manner in which we are concluding my tenure.”

“The idea is to ensure stability and improve the public trust in the entity,” he said.

Makwana spent a year as chairman of Eskom. 

He said during his tenure, the load-shedding challenges had been addressed as lights are on more than before and the generation operations turnaround plan was showing green shoots. 

“There is hope,” Makwana said.

He said he was proud to have served the country, having had two stints as Eskom board chair.

“Serving one’s country in this manner, as chair of a state owned company (SOC) is  like a marathon relay. I have run my leg of the race as best as possible, now I hand over the baton to the next leader to run his fair share of this complex race.”

Speculation over Makwana’s resignation has been rife after Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan made the announcement earlier this month that the Eskom chair was leaving.

Makwana has kept mum about his resignation, refusing to divulge any information about it. 

The Mail & Guardian has previously reported that tension between Makwana and Gordhan culminated in an investigation against him.  

According to insiders who previously spoke to M&G, Makwana allegedly exerted undue influence in the process of hiring an agency to undertake the recruitment of a new CEO. An investigation, however, found no evidence against the outgoing Eskom chair, one insider said.

Makwana’s predecessor, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, has accused Gordhan of “meddling” and interfering with Eskom board members. 

In an opinion piece published by the M&G this week, Gordhan said he made no bones about being an “active shareholder” in the context of his responsibility to hold SOE boards accountable, ensure good governance, demand ethical leadership, and judicious execution of mandates.

“But cutting through all the recent noise, one thing is clear: reform is ongoing and demands that we be continuously vigilant and assertive in ensuring that end. The Eskom GCEO will be appointed before the end of the year,” Gordhan said. 

Makwana thanked the organisation for having invited him, saying jokingly that Sanef was, “brave to have someone who has been shown the door to be your keynote speaker”.