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Cyril Ramaphosa's Eskom task team shrinks as another member quits

10 January 2019 - 10:49 By Lisa Steyn
Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

The task team set up by President Cyril Ramaphosa to advise the government on how to save the crisis-hit Eskom has lost another member. 

Sy Gourrah, general manager of Actom Power Systems, confirmed her resignation from the sustainability task team to the Business Day on Thursday.

“Once I saw the scope of the work, I had to resign,” she said, noting that Eskom is one of Actom’s biggest clients.

Gourrah said she had resigned in December. 

News of Gourrah’s resignation comes after Brian Dames’s exit from the task team, which was appointed by Ramaphosa in mid-December.

Just days after his appointment Dames, a former Eskom CEO and head of Patrice Motsepe’s African Rainbow Energy and Power, resigned from the task team over a “perceived” conflict of interest.

The task team is down to six members from eight, comprising of Anton Eberhard, Tsakani Mthombeni, Grové Steyn, Frans Baleni, Mick Davis and Busisiwe Vilakazi.

The team will assist in fixing Eskom, which is in a dismal state both financially and operationally.

The government is struggling to come up with a turnaround strategy for Eskom, which has debts of more than R400bn, largely guaranteed by the state, which have emerged as one of the key risks to the country losing its last investment-grade rating.

A loss of that rating could potentially lead to capital outflows, raising borrowing costs across the economy.

The power utility, which provides virtually all of the country’s energy needs, resorted to load-shedding in December, threatening businesses that depend on a secure and reliable supply of electricity.

The risk of load-shedding is expected to return as SA industry starts up next week.

The team has been given a broad mandate that would include assessing the appropriateness of the Eskom business model and structure.

It would also review a turnaround strategy submitted by the board, including “key assumptions, impact on tariffs and industry, and viability of proposed solutions on the future role of Eskom”, according to the presidency’s statement in December announcing the team.

The task team is expected to issue its report before the end of January 2019.

- BusinessLIVE