S.A’s Eskom CEO dismissed in setback for Zuma

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – South African cabinet ministers on Wednesday ceded to pressure from senior politicians and the public by dismissing the head of state power utility Eskom, Brian Molefe, an ally of President Jacob Zuma who has been accused of mismanagement.

Opposition parties and some members of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) heavily criticised the decision to reinstate Molefe two weeks ago, given he resigned last year amid allegations of graft in the award of Eskom contracts.

Molefe denies any wrongdoing and said he resigned in the interest of good governance and stability.

An inter-ministerial committee said it was “in the best interests of government, Eskom and the country” for Eskom to rescind the decision to bring back Molefe. An interim chief executive officer would be chosen within 48 hours, it said.

Molefe’s reinstatement opened up an increasingly bitter divide within the ANC ahead of a conference in December when a successor to Zuma as party president will be chosen. Zuma can remain as head of state until elections in 2019.

Zuma’s camp is expected to back his ex-wife and former African Union Chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, while another ANC faction will support Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“The u-turn on Molefe’s Eskom appointment demonstrates that Zuma is capable of listening to dissent from within the party,” said Augustine Booth-Clibborn, analyst at Africa Risk Consulting.

“However, it may also inspire a greater push against him as his enemies within and outside the ANC sense the president’s hand can be forced.”

Molefe resigned in November after a report by the Public Protector, a constitutionally mandated corruption watchdog, raised questions over Eskom coal deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Zuma and the Gupta family deny wrongdoing.

The report also raised concerns about ties between Eskom, Molefe and the Gupta family, wealthy businessmen and friends of Zuma who government ministers have accused of wielding undue influence over government appointments and public tenders.

Zuma’s opponents say Molefe’s return was an attempt to control the large tenders handled by Eskom and called for a full parliamentary investigation.

“The announcement today shows that governance at Eskom has crumbled,” said Natasha Mazzone, the Democratic Alliance’s shadow public enterprises minister.

“Only a full-scale parliamentary inquiry has the capacity to get to the bottom of the rot.”

(Additional reporting by Ed Stoddard; Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by Stephen Powell)

Related Content

Eskom says coal stocks healthy ahead of South Africa’s lockdown

South African power utility Eskom said on Wednesday that coal stocks at its power stations were healthy, with at least 20 days of supplies at all stations, before a nationwide lockdown over the coronavirus outbreak starting at midnight on Thursday.

Former president Zuma’s bid to stop corruption trial is rejected

According to the local news agency Eye Witness News, the SCA ruled that Zuma’s appeal against an October decision by the Pietermaritzburg High Court had “no reasonable prospects of success”.

Eskom says power cuts to last indefinitely

The latest blackouts, referred to locally as loadshedding, were triggered by breakdowns this week at a score of generating units, including at Koeberg nuclear plant in Cape Town.

#Budget2020: Risk of SA remaining investment grade by Moody’s has become more pronounced

The national treasury has acknowledged that the risk to South Africa remaining investment grade has become more pronounced.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up for free newsletters and get more CNBC AFRICA delivered to your inbox

More from CNBC Africa

How COVID-19 impacts the health & well-being of children

Research shows that children have a lower rate of contracting the Coronavirus and bringing infections to the household. This should provide comfort to South African parents that are in two minds about sending their kids back to school next week, when physical teaching is set to resume. Epidemiologist, Dr Boshoff Steenekamp joins CNBC Africa for more.

Rebosis rolls out COVID-19 testing stations outside malls

Property Group Rebosis, has partnered with government to roll out testing stations for Covid-19 outside its shopping malls in Pretoria – South Africa’s capital. However, foot traffic into these malls is expected to have dived due to the virus lock-downs prevented non-essential stores from trading. Rebosis is yet to release its interim results. Rebosis CEO Sisa Ngebulana joins CNBC Africa for more.

Distell CEO: What the sale of alcohol under level 3 means for the industry

South Africans can look forward to popping their favourite bottle of bubbly or sipping on a glass of pinotage to warm up from the cold winter. That’s as alcohol sales, that were banned for over two months under the Covid-19 lock-down, will be lifted. Distell CEO Richard Rushton joins CNBC Africa for more.

This Rwandan publisher is creating buzz with new book App

After realising the challenges that come with publishing fellow African writers, home-grown publishing house, Imagine We Rwanda launched their very own mobile app, dubbed, Imagine Books. Fast forward 2 weeks and hundreds of titles have been purchased worldwide and the numbers are only going up. CNBC Africa spoke to the founder, Dominique Alonga for more.

Partner Content

VIVO CEO is a dynamic leader for this innovative global brand

May 2020 -- Six months ago the vision for vivo in South Africa was just beginning to...

Building Africa’s Biggest Digital Classroom

An enduring lesson learnt throughout our 175-year existence is that, while things rapidly change around us, the things that truly matter don’t!...

Trending Now

What Happens To Frequent Flyer Miles If An Airline Goes Bankrupt?

With U.S. passenger traffic down by 90%, airlines are desperate to fill seats and are offering big incentives to keep their most reliable customers loyal. But what happens to frequent flyer miles when almost no one is flying and can an airline loyalt

How The Medical Device Supply Chain Failed During Covid-19

More than three months into the coronavirus pandemic, health-care workers on the front-lines of the battle against Covid-19 say they still face shortages of personal protective equipment. The personal protective shortage was one of the early flashpoi

Tsogo Sun Hotels FY profits plunge, COVID-19 lock-downs weigh

Hospitality Group Tsogo Sun Hotels reported a 31 per cent plunge in full year headline earnings per share, with Covid-19 resulting in demand from international tourist retracting in the fourth quarter, due to global lock-downs.

Nampak swings into H1 loss, suffers R3bn impairment

Nampak swung to a half year loss of R2.4 billion as revenue plunged and it impaired its Angola and Nigeria assets by R3 billion, which is four times its market value. The also warned that future profits were in South Africa were at risk from the ban on alcohol sales due to Covid-19 lock-downs. Nampak CEO, Erik Smuts joins CNBC Africa for more.
- Advertisement -