/ 29 August 2023

Cassim is ‘not interested in Eskom’s top job’

Eskom acting chief executive, Calib Cassim. File photo by Freddy Mavunda/Gallo Images

Eskom’s acting chief executive, Calib Cassim, has rejected suggestions that he take over the position full time.

Cassim told the Mail & Guardian he was not interested in the job in a full-time capacity because he has unfinished business in his finance role.

“I did not put my name for this position because, first of all, my wife would kill me if I did, but mostly it’s because I am a finance man and I still have a lot of work that needs to be done in my position. 

“So, I will work with the upcoming CEO, and support them, but I will gladly take my CFO position back,” he said.

Cassim was commenting on the sidelines of the Eskom Women’s Conference, in Midrand, where speakers called for the utility to employ a female executive leader.

It is not known whether a woman has been shortlisted for the chief executive position.

Time for a woman

Former University of Cape Town vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng urged Eskom to consider a woman chief executive.

During her keynote address at Eskom’s women advancement programme on Tuesday, Phakeng said after a 100 years of male dominance, Eskom should consider a female leader.

She added that the women had to work hard to gain recognition, forcing them to constantly fight to prove they can do the job, ”which is something that does not happen to men”.

“We need to silence these voices that rise when a woman is ahead in these interviews. When a man is selected to be a CEO of Eskom, no one will question the ability of the man to lead, but should a woman be selected, everyone will ask if she is qualified, if she is experienced, if she has her emotions in check. This needs to stop,” she said.

Phakeng’s statements come as the utility is in the process of recruiting a new chief executive to replace Andre de Ruyter, who left the utility after an explosive interview with eNCA where he made claims against an unnamed minister.

Eskom has been without a leader since De Ruyter left the position earlier than expected in February 2023. Several names have emerged as possible candidates — including Ayanda Noah, Dan Marokane and Vally Padayachee.

Final stages

Last week, Eskom chairperson Mpho Makwana announced that the process of appointing a new chief executive was in its final stages, with the decision resting with the main shareholders and Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan.

Makwana said the process had taken a long time to complete because extra care was being taken “to do due diligence, given the significance of the role; the politics surrounding the matter”.

“Your guess is as good as ours as to when we will be able to announce, given the need for this enhanced due diligence. We don’t want what happened before to repeat itself, as well as the painful lessons from the past in dealing with the previous group executive,” he said

Mandisa Nyathi is a climate reporting fellow, funded by the Open Society Foundation for South Africa.