BusinessExecutivesHead of South Africa power utility Eskom to resign


Posted on Thursday, 05 December 2013 10:23

Head of South Africa power utility Eskom to resign

The chief executive of South Africa's Eskom is to step down in March, departing the state-owned utility at a time when it is struggling to avoid blackouts that would hit industries and homeowners.


Brian Dames, who has led the company for three years, told a news conference on Thursday he was leaving for personal reasons and had not faced any pressure to resign.

His surprise departure was announced just weeks after Eskom declared a power emergency for the first time in five years when its ageing generator units unexpectedly tripped.

"We have kept the lights on by the skin of our teeth," Eskom Chairman Zola Tsotsi told the news conference.

Dames said the power system was now stable after the emergency was lifted on November 21.

The emergency has revived fears Eskom may be have to resort to the rolling blackouts that hit the economy for weeks in 2008, forcing the closure of mines and factories and costing billions of dollars of lost output for Africa's largest economy.

A new wave of power blackouts could also hurt the ruling African National Congress in an election scheduled for next year if voters believe the government has not invested enough in essential infrastructure since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Eskom, which provides 95 percent of South Africa's electricity, is racing to finish long-overdue power plants.

One of its new coal-fired plants, Medupi, is expected to deliver its first power in the second half of next year after a delay of at least six months caused by labour unrest and what Eskom has called the underperformance of contractors.

Tsotsi said a search for Dames' successor was already underway.

Eskom also named Tsholofelo Molefe at its new financial director.

The rand currency weakened after the announcement, hitting a 4-1/2 year low, although traders said the softening was due to technical factors and not directly related to Dames' resignation.



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