Chamber objects to Eskom, Transnet changes

[] — SOUTH Africa’s Chamber of Mines (COM) said on Thursday it was “deeply concerned’ about the removal of electricity parastatal Eskom’s chairperson, as well as suggestions that Transnet’s chair was also on his way out.

Government named Zola Tsotsi as the new chairperson of power utility Eskom, a cabinet statement said on Thursday.

Tsotsi, the former chairperson of the Lesotho Electricity Corporation, will replace Mpho Makwana, who became chairperson after a leadership crisis at Eskom in late 2009.

Cabinet spokesperson Jimmy Manyi said the move to replace Makwana was not a reflection on his work, but rather part of the government’s bigger strategy to change the way state-owned companies are run.

“It was done within the broad principles of renewing the board, bringing new thinking and new strategies in,” Manyi said.

He said the government was also looking at restructuring the board of state-owned freight logistics Transnet, responsible for transporting coal and iron ore from mines to export terminals at the coast. This could include the removal of chairperson Mafika Mkwanazi.

“There is a possibility that vacancies will be filled at the Transnet annual general meeting later this month and new blood introduced,” he said.

CEO of the COM Bheki Sibiya said he was surprised by the board shuffles.

He said that while the COM and its members acknowledged the fact that the matter was an internal one between the shareholders of the two state owned enterprises and their officials, “it would be a dereliction of duty on our part, as major stakeholders in these organisations, to remain silent on this issue given its potential impact on our industry’.

“It has been our considered view that stability and efficiencies in these two enterprises are critical in ensuring a competitive and growing mining industry which is important to the economy of the country.

“During the short period in which Mr Mafika Mkwanazi and Mr Mpho Makwana have occupied their respectively strategic positions, they have managed to bring stability to their respective organisations which, to our vantage point, seemed to be in turbulence. We therefore do not understand the logic behind their removal from office’.

Sibiya said he would approach Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba to try and understand the logic behind these developments.