Pretoria – Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown says she will continue to work with the Eskom Board to ensure the power parastatal’s sustainability is maintained.
“We cannot ignore the fact that the Board is ultimately accountable for the fiduciary duties of the company. To this extent, I will continue working with the Board to ensure that Eskom’s sustainability is maintained and its developmental contribution to the South African economy is enhanced,” she said on Wednesday.
Addressing the Select Committee on Communication and Public Enterprises in Parliament, Minister Brown said her relationship, as the shareholder representative with the board of Eskom, is crucial in ensuring that public and investor confidence is restored, “as we (Eskom and the sovereign) continue engaging with the investor community to improve our investment rating”.
Last week, Cabinet expressed concern about recent developments at the power utility. This followed the return of Brian Molefe to the entity after he announced his resignation last year following the former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report.
“Cabinet appreciates that the matter regarding the re-employment of Mr Brian Molefe as the Chief Executive Officer of Eskom is before courts and in Parliament, and shall therefore respect these processes,” said Cabinet.
Following its fortnightly meeting, Cabinet also announced that President Jacob Zuma has set up an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) comprising the Ministers of Public Enterprises, Energy, Finance and Justice and Correctional Services.
Meanwhile, Minister Brown has also instructed her department to draw up the terms of reference for a probe into Eskom.
On Wednesday, the Minister told the Select Committee that Eskom is an important economic driver and that it is the fourth largest utility company in the world.
Eskom also operates the only nuclear power station on the continent and is also ahead of schedule on its revised build programme, said the Minister, adding that it is not only “doom and gloom” at the utility.
Minister Brown also expressed condolences following the death of Eskom employee Thembisile Yende.
Yende’s body was discovered at the utility’s Springs substation after having been reportedly missing for two weeks.
“Allow me to express our deepest condolences, on behalf of government, to the family of Thembisile Yende. I have asked my Department to ensure that Eskom provides the appropriate support to the Yende family and the police investigation,” said Minister Brown.
In a statement on Tuesday, Eskom said it was saddened by the events. Eskom is now working closely with the South African Police Service (SAPS) to establish the circumstances under which Yende passed away.
“We convey our deepest condolences to the Yende family, who have lost their loved one and join the family in mourning,” Eskom’s Group Executive for Human Resources Elsie Pule said.
“When we heard that Thembi had gone missing, we worked closely with the family and the SAPS. We are saddened by her tragic death. Eskom will continue to support the family with counselling and in any other way possible,” said Pule.
A post-mortem will be conducted to determine the cause and time of death.