SA union calls on resignation of Eskom management, board after COO Oberholzer exonerated

Jan Oberholzer, COO, Eskom

ESKOM’S board and senior management ought to resign after its COO, Jan Oberholzer, was cleared of wrongdoing, said Bloomberg News citing the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU), the country’s second largest union.

SAFTU, which includes an affiliate that is the second-largest union at Eskom, said in a 15-page statement on Saturday that Eskom’s findings didn’t represent what was found in the investigations. “SAFTU calls for the urgent intervention of President Ramaphosa and the immediate resignation of the Eskom board,” it said.

Eskom had announced on September 25 that an internal investigation and a court judgement regarding a payment dispute with Aveng, a contractor, exonerated Oberholzer. A subsequent opinion by Nazir Cassim, an advocate, also cleared Oberholzer and brought a grievance procedure against him to a close, said Bloomberg citing Eskom.

The dispute with the union is another headache for Eskom CEO, Andre de Ruyter, who took office in January and is trying to turn around a utility that is R488bn in debt and is struggling to supply the country with sufficient power, the newswire said.

Eskom has been described by Goldman Sachs, the bank, as the single largest threat to the South African economy.

Earlier this month, Reuters said in a report that new mining investment in the country was being discouraged owing to power utility Eskom’s ongoing supply problems.

Citing Impala Platinum CEO, Nico Muller, Reuters said Eskom’s problems would have “… a material bearing” on growth investment in the country.

“I think the impact of Eskom is far more pronounced than the impact of Covid-19, although Covid-19 is getting all the attention,” he said.

Whilst power supply was not the main driver behind its investment decision-making, it determined investor appetite in the country, Natascha Viljoen, CEO of Anglo American Platinum, was quoted as saying in the Reuters report.