'The command and control structures have collapsed': Koko warns of 'disconnect' at Eskom

22 September 2022 - 09:40
By Kyle Zeeman
Former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko has spoken on the state of Eskom.
Image: Esa Alexander Former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko has spoken on the state of Eskom.

Former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko has weighed in on troubles at the power utility, claiming there is a disconnect between workers and executives.

Eskom's board has been under scrutiny for several years, and is again in the spotlight after the power utility announce stage 6 load-shedding on Sunday. This has since been eased to stage 5, but calls persist for Eskom executives to step down.

Weighing in on Eskom's woes, Koko shared a conversation he allegedly had with an worker who had asked him to “please come back to Eskom”.

The worker said “things are not the same” at Eskom and they were “losing the motivation to make a difference”.

Koko said such messages made him emotional, and claimed the command and control structures at the company had collapsed.

“This here makes me feel like crying. When I say the command and control structures in Eskom have collapsed, I mean it.

“Eskom's biggest asset is its plant operators, artisans, technicians and engineers. Unfortunately, these feel disconnected from [CEO] Andre de Ruyter and [COO] Jan Oberholzer.”

Speaking on Power 98.7 recently, Koko defended his tenure as CEO, taking a swipe at President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“A critical core, faction, in the ANC led by Ramaphosa thought what we were doing at Eskom was very easy. They thought they can bring a lawyer, a taxi driver or banker and he will duplicate the excellence we were doing.”

He said since he had left Eskom there had “never been hands-on work and hands-on focus”.

“The new leadership of Eskom has been focusing on getting certain individuals into [prison] jumpsuits rather than focusing on their core mandate to provide electricity.”

Koko was sacked as Eskom CEO in 2018 after he was embroiled in allegations of wrongdoing. In May, chief justice Raymond Zondo recommended Koko be investigated and possibly prosecuted for Gupta-linked deals at Eskom.

Koko denied he and the other executives were Gupta agents who collapsed Eskom to benefit the controversial family.

Despite the pleas to return, Koko has previously said he will not return to Eskom at the moment.

“I will not return to Eskom nor work for any state-owned company under the sixth administration,” he told social media users in July.

The EFF are among those who have called for De Ruyter and the Eskom board to step down.

“The incompetence and arrogance of Eskom executives has plunged SA into perpetual and unwarranted darkness that is killing businesses and livelihoods. The collapse of Eskom and the failure to prove a dependable and consistent energy supply are meant to render the country’s electricity utility redundant and useless,” the party said.

The EFF said if the board does not step down, it would take “more radical steps to ensure competent, dependable and fit people are in charge”.

“We call for the firing of the board, CEO and COO, knowing very well [President] Cyril Ramaphosa’s cowardice will not allow him to take decisive steps”.

Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan responded to such calls, saying “politicking won’t help” the country solve the energy crisis.


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