Former Eskom board chairperson and businessman Dr Reuel Khoza has called for skilled engineers and artisans to be recalled to address the Eskom crisis.
Khoza, who was speaking during a webinar organised by the Centre for Development and Enterprise on leadership in South Africa, said the government should not interfere with Eskom, but rather invest in skilled personnel.
“The shareholder should behave like a shareholder and not be part of management. There should be a solid board at Eskom that can tell the government (what is happening at the utility), and government should be able to hold the board accountable at annual general meetings,” Khoza said.
As the country battles with load shedding, which is currently at stage 4, he said during his tenure at Eskom there had been no load shedding and the power utility had boasted an energy availability factor of 92%.
“Blackouts did not exist, even with fewer resources. But today power cuts are part of everyday life,” he said.
Part of the solution, he said, lay in retaining skilled engineers and artisans who would be happy to lend a hand if called upon to do so.
“When I joined Eskom in 1997, it was highly indebted. By working with colleagues, five years later we could boast that Eskom was more creditworthy than SA… South Africa has engineers who would like to be of assistance, if only the government invited them to help out at Eskom. But that solution is regularly brushed aside…
“They were willing to come back home and help. This was a substantial group of six people that are active and knowledgeable and experienced in the area of electrical engineering. We asked the government to release these people. But we were brushed aside with gusto,” he said.
On President Cyril Ramaphosa, the current chairperson of Assupol said: “The president is too weak and is an indecisive leader.”
“Unfortunately, in my observation, he has a number of shortcomings. For one thing, he is irresolute. An effective leader has to be decisive. You cannot prevaricate for any extended period of time.
“I agree with Winston Churchill who said you can have all the characteristics of leadership, but if you lack courage, particularly the courage of your own convictions, don’t step up to the plate. In my humble observations, the current president does lack courage.
“The current president is presidential and worldly, but he does not have adequate courage to say to those who may be doing things inimical to his own cabinet and party… courage to say: ‘This is where I stand, and if for any reason you do not agree, you are at liberty to to hive off and start your own movement and go into competition (with us) if need be.’ I am afraid he is also ameliorating and accommodating to a fault, and that cannot augur well for the country,” he said.
Khoza also addressed issues of transformation and leadership during his address with Ann Bernstein, and called for corporate South Africa to transform.
“Anyone who wants to lead in any domain must stand in two pillars. The first is competence. The second is ethical leadership. The current SA political leadership, to varying degrees, is lacking that.
“It is irresponsible to say that the unity of the ANC is more important than the welfare of South Africa at large. Political organisations come and go, as do political leaders, but the nation is for ever. It is infinitely more important,” he said.