The appointment of the former Eskom CEO Brian Dames to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Eskom sustainability task team has gotten under the skin of the Economic Freedom Fighters.
“Dames is not competent, nor has he any capacity to make any recommendation that will balance out Eskom,” party representative Mbyuseni Ndlozi said. “He couldn’t do it before, and he left Eskom in a far more terrible position than he discovered it as its CEO.”
Dames, Professor Anton Eberhard, Tsakani Mthombeni, Sy Gourrah, Grové Steyn, Frans Baleni, Mick Davis and Busisiwe Vilakazi were tasked by Ramaphosa to “assess the operational, structural and financial viability of Eskom, review the turnaround strategy and present a view on current energy trends”.
“The board of directors, management and the department of public enterprises will work with the task team,” presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko said.
The team has until the end of January 2019 to submit its initial recommendations on how to resolve the power utility’s challenges.
The red berets, however, saw the appointment of the task team as a plot by Ramaphosa.
The EFF said: “The appointment of this team is equal to setting up a parallel board; which will effectively render the board and management useless and redundant.
“If Ramaphosa did not have confidence in the current board and management, he should have dissolved them. It is our view that the recent episodes of load shedding were staged in a deliberate attempt intended to rationalize the appointment of this parallel board.”
The party said they were also shocked by the appointment of Eberhard, who according to the EFF saw no future for Eskom and had openly advocated for independent power producers.
“It is despicable to appoint a person who does not believe in Eskom.”
Dames is the CEO of African Rainbow Energy and minerals, owned by businessman Patrice Motsepe, who is Ramaphosa’s brother-in-law.
The appointments, for the EFF, were a sign of a bigger “more sinister and more corrupt project to concentrate the power to produce electricity in the hands of few private hands”.
The team would crush Eskom’s monopoly and make way for private, profit-driven, capitalist provision for electricity in South Africa, the EFF said.
This would result in expensive electricity, with black workers and the poor left in the dark “as they will not be able to afford electricity”. They called on progressive movements to reject Ramaphosa’s attempt to destroy Eskom to benefit his friends and family.
But energy expert Chris Yelland said Eberhard had the highest integrity.
“He is acknowledged as one of SA’s thought leaders in this field. The fact he is on this committee is very important.”
Yelland said Dames was the victim of political interference and had an in-depth knowledge of Eskom, while the appointment of Davis demonstrated Ramaphosa’s business reach into “the very highest level.”
Davis is a British politician and former SA businessperson, currently serving as treasurer of the Conservative Party.
“His experience is staggering,” Yelland said. “He used to be the CFO of Eskom.
“Personally, I think the EFF is running scared because there are people with great integrity on this team,” Yelland added.