Who Wants the Toughest CEO Job in SA?

For the 11thtime in a decade, Eskom, one of South Africa’s biggest and also one of the most troubled companies has a top job opening and it’s unclear as to whether anyone is ready to fill it. 

Eskom is now seeking a replacement for Phakamani Hadebe, who announced that he is quitting after only being in the position for 16 months. He said that the position took a toll on his health due to the unimaginable demands that came with the role. He went on to say that his decision to leave is in the interest of both his family and the company. 

The one that takes over his position will need to oversee a fleet of poorly maintained, old plants that are struggling to supply enough power for Africa’s most-industrialised economy. Not only that, Eskom has more than $30 billion of debt, about 16 000 more workers then it apparently needs and it needs massive bailouts from the government, who do not have the money to spare. 

The head of capital markets research at Intellidex, Peter Attard Montalto said that he is not able to think of anyone at Eskom that has the technical knowledge and the political savvy that is required of the CEO or even anyone that wants the position. 


95% of the nation’s electricity is supplied by Eskom through burning coal. Only just two decades ago it was actually ranked as the world’s best power companies, however, the country has experienced intermittent blackouts since 2008, which is mainly due to the government hindering it from investing in enough new capacity to keep up with demand and by blocking private companies from investing in generation. 

Not only this, when Jacob Zuma became president in 2009, Eskom’s woes grew. In official inquiries, testimony was given that suggested Zuma’s allies worked with top managers at the utility in order to loot billions of rand. However, Zuma and the former executives deny any wrongdoing. 

When Cyril Ramaphosa replaced Zuma in 2017 as the ruler of the ANC, Hadebe was brought in as well as a new board to sort the mess. They did make headway in fixing financial controls, but accounts continued to deteriorate due to electricity sales not generating enough to cover the interest payments and operating costs. 

The Bailout

In February, Ramaphosa announced that he intended to divide Eskom into three sectors, those being generation, transmission and distribution units. This would be to make the utility easier to manage and raise finance. Later that month, Tito Mboweni finance minister allocated a three year bailout of R69 billion to Eskom, which is far less than what the utility needed. 

So what does the candidate need? Well, they need to be able to run a complex organisation and have a great understanding of the global power sector as well as being an expert in motivating people and politics said Iraj Abedian, the head of Pan-African Investments and Research Services. 

Article Source: https://techcentral.co.za/wanted-a-brave-capable-leader-for-sas-toughest-job/89784/