/ 9 May 2022

Eskom’s head of generation quits amid load-shedding crisis

Eskom Holdings Soc Ltd Chief Executive Officer Brian Molefe Interview
Eskom told Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts that it was targeting suppliers mentioned in the Zondo report

Phillip Dukashe, Eskom’s head of generation, has resigned. The announcement comes shortly after the ailing power utility warned that the country may face yet another round of load-shedding.

Dukashe — who has served as the permanent head of generation for only a year — will be replaced by Rhulani Mathebula, who will fill the position on an acting basis when his colleague leaves at the end of the month.

Eskom’s generation division is at the centre of South Africa’s energy crisis, as the power utility’s ageing coal fleet has led to 15 years of intermittent load-shedding. 

In the statement announcing his resignation, Eskom called Dukashe a “true, loyal asset”, both to the utility and the country. “In his resignation letter and discussions with Eskom executives,” the statement said, “Mr Dukashe has cited the critical need to achieve a balance for the benefit of his health, family and work responsibilities.”

Dukashe leaves behind a competent team to help run the generation division, Eskom added: “Phillip’s vast institutional knowledge, cross-functional skills and sound executive leadership experience created the much-needed stability in the generation division during his tenure and achieved some significant strides in helping to turn around generation’s poor performance since his permanent appointment into the position from April 2021.”

Last year was the worst year of load-shedding on record. According to data from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, counted together, the 2021 outages clocked 1 169 hours.

After enduring almost a week of load-shedding, which was announced last Tuesday, the country may again soon be forced into darkness. This is according to an Eskom statement released earlier on Monday, which said the country’s power system would be severely constrained during evening peaks.

“While the power system has recovered sufficiently to fully meet the demand during the day, Eskom would like to caution the public that load-shedding might be required at short notice during the evening peaks should there be further breakdowns in currently available capacity,” the statement read.

Eskom expects that Kusile and Kendal power stations will return online before Monday  evening. However, the utility warned, “should any of these units fail to return as expected, the power system will be severely constrained”. 

Speaking to the Mail & Guardian on Monday, energy expert Chris Yelland called for a Marshall Plan “to deal with this national emergency and to prevent a national disaster”.

“It is quite clear that Eskom is unable to deal with this matter on its own through increased  maintenance or delaying the decommissioning of old, poorly performing coal-fired power stations, “ Yelland said in a separate written note.