/ 9 October 2023

Eskom chair Mpho Makwana to step down end of October, Gordhan says

Mpho Eskom Getty
Eskom board chairperson Mpho Makwana. Photo: Getty Images

Eskom board chairperson Mpho Makwana will step down at the beleaguered power utility’s annual general meeting scheduled for the end of October, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan announced on Monday.

In a brief statement, Gordhan said Mteto Nyati would be appointed as new 

chairperson of the board.

“Our efforts to stabilise Eskom and restructure it into three subsidiaries — generation, transmission, and distribution — remain on track,” Gordhan said.

“We wish to thank Mr Makwana for his contribution during the most difficult time for Eskom. We wish him well in his future endeavours.”

Makwana’s exit comes as Eskom is struggling to find a replacement for former chief executive officer Andre de Ruyter, whose departure from the utility was brought forward after an explosive  television interview in which he made allegations of corruption at the company embroiling senior politicians.

Makwana was appointed for a second stint as chairperson of the board in 2022 with a mandate to increase Eskom’s energy availability factor (EAF) — which was at 59% at the time — to 75% in order to end load-shedding. The EAF however remains at 60% to date.

Monday’s statement quoted Makwana as saying he was “grateful for the opportunity afforded me by the government of the Republic of South Africa to serve a second term as chairperson of the board of directors of Eskom”.

A rift had reportedly emerged between Gordhan and Makwana after the minister rejected the candidate the Eskom board had put forward to be the next CEO.

His departure from Eskom follows the recent resignation of Portia Derby as group chief executive of another troubled state entity — rail, port and pipeline company Transnet. Just a week after Derby stepped down, Siza Mzimela also quit as head of Transnet Freight Rail.

The news of Makwana’s exit comes hours after Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said South Africa had “turned the corner” in the battle to keep the lights on but was not yet “out of the woods” in terms of eradicating load-shedding.

Incoming Eskom interim chair Nyati was previously chief executive of MTN South Africa as well as of Altron and he also held senior positions at IBM and Microsoft.

Last week, banking group Nedbank said Nyati had resigned as an independent non-executive director of the group and Nedbank Boards of Directors with effect from 9 October “as a result of increased capacity constraints”.