DAWN OF NEW ESKOM BOARD AS RAMAPHOSA SHOWS HIS HAND
By Mark Mfikoe, National Director, ECA(SA)
The ruling party went to an election congress in December 2017 to elect a new leadership. It was essentially a competition between two slates – that of Nkosazana Zuma and that of Cyril Ramaphosa. The popular sentiment was that Cyril is business friendly and that his win would signal positive change and the dawn of a business-friendly environment. Zuma was seen effectively as the maintenance of the status quo, a very unpopular one. General commentators, particularly ordinary citizens like you and me wanted a change that would turn things around and relieve the country from negatives like state capture and disempowered ministers. Cyril Ramaphosa emerged as the President of the ANC but his slate did not win. He sits with David ‘Unity’ Mabuza, Ace Magashule and Jesse Duarte in the top six that were not on his slate. That simply means that there would still be a realignment of forces so that the centre can hold, and we can have one party.
At the same time, we essentially have two centres of power. President Zuma has national power as the country’s president. Ramaphosa has ruling party power as leader of the ANC. Ramaphosa takes his power from the NEC and Jacob cannot be seen to be defying him because he would effectively be defying the ANC that deployed him.
The dominant expectation is that Ramphosa would recall Zuma. This is how it is seen. If he doesn’t recall him, he will be seen as weak and scared, and less than decisive. It is expected that Jacob will be recalled soon. What remains is the methodology and what post recall arrangements get put in place. The conflicting of centres of power was made evident in the matter involving the appointment of the National Director of Public Prosecutions. The court said Ramaphosa should do the appointing and Zuma went to court to oppose the decision. It cannot get clearer than that, in my eyes as a citizen.
In the meantime, Eskom has a new 13-member board and chairperson. Jabu Mabuza is the new Chairperson of the board that includes some credible professionals. Jabu Mabuza is the president of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) and he is highly respected in business circles. Minister Brown is quoted as saying that the appointment of the new board was necessitated by the company’s precarious condition. What the Minister sees as the precarious condition is yet to be unpacked. I have seen the list of the new board members and the names and qualifications of the people on the list must inspire confidence in the industry and citizens alike that indeed the expectation that a Ramaphosa victory would be good for business is about to find fruition.
I welcome the changes that are happening at the power utility and hope that they will be given the professional space required for them to execute their mandate. They still need to sort out the mess that played itself out in the public involving Matshela Koko, Anoj Singh and Brian Molefe. This must be sorted out one way or the other, so that the utility can concentrate on serious matters on the back of solid governance, free from undue influence. The board must ride the credibility wave and lead without fear, favour or prejudice as the Constitution of this land instructs us to do. It is also encouraging that the opposition has not trashed the appointment of the new Eskom board.
We, as electrical contractors, just want to do business in an environment of business certainty and confidence. What happens in the socio-economic space therefore directly affects how we will fare in our chosen trade. We hope that uncertainty will be minimised, infrastructure development prioritised and that the principles of open tendering are applied and observed by all so that we all have a great shot at doing business with the state and the private sector.
Enjoy the ride.