Sunday, August 20, 2017
Dr. Baldwin (Ben) Ngubane

Dr. Baldwin (Ben) Ngubane

Eskom

ANOTHER year, another crisis for South Africa’s state-owned power utility, Eskom. Ngubane joined Eskom’s board in 2015 to bring stability after a clear-out of its CEO and then chairman. He is now the link-man again in another round of musical chairs which sees CEO, Brian Molefe resign, to be replaced on an interim basis by head of generation, Matshela Koko. This follows a report by the Public Protector which said Eskom had granted coal contracts to the Gupta family companies so it could buy Optimum Coal Mine. The report also identified numerous conflicts of interest of nearly every board member as well as CEO Brian Molefe’s close ties with Ajay Gupta. Ngubane responded in kind saying Thuli Madonsela, the former Public Protector who authored the report, had failed to take the utility’s opinions into consideration. Amid the hue and cry, Ngubane must decide whether to challenge the report in court or allow it to proceed to a judicial inquiry. He also has the mammoth task of stabilising Eskom which, as a business, had started to function under Molefe, albeit assisted by the decline in South Africa’s economic activity which has lessened demand for electricity and eased the company’s power capacity constraints. In January, Ngubane will testify into an investigation into the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC’s) dealings whilst he was chairman.

LIFE OF BEN

Disparagingly described by the EFF as President Jacob ‘Zuma’s son-in-law’, Baldwin Ngubane served as chairman of the SABC before taking up the Eskom role in 2015. He has held multiple positions in the post-apartheid government including minister for arts and culture. He graduated from University of Natal’s medical school in 1971.

“I would like to say that Thuli Madonsela has struck a deadly blow against Eskom.”