MPs have blasted the Eskom board, accusing its acting chairperson, Prof Malegapuru Makgoba, of undermining parliament after he sent them a text at the “eleventh hour” to excuse himself and the board from a scheduled meeting on Wednesday.
During a meeting of the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa), MPs from the ANC, the DA and the IFP lambasted Makgoba, saying he was treating them like children after he sent them an SMS this morning, communicating his and the entire board’s no-show at a meeting scheduled to discuss alleged boardroom shenanigans at Eskom.
The fuming MPs also used the opportunity to question the suitability of the Eskom board, saying their attitude towards parliament suggested they did not take their fiduciary duties seriously.
ANC MP Bheki Hadebe led the charge after Scopa chairperson and IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa told the meeting he had received Makgoba’s SMS on Wednesday morning.
“The entire executive, the accounting authority, the board of Eskom, decide to recuse themselves via SMS. Is that professional? And they expect us to accept that and move forward as if nothing has happened?” said Hadebe.
“In terms of good corporate governance and ethical leadership, such tendencies are unacceptable and cannot be tolerated. We can’t be reduced to an SMS as if they are communicating to their girlfriends and boyfriends at the eleventh hour when they schedule a date and something else happens and they cannot come. This is unacceptable. They are disrespecting us. I thought they had sent you formal correspondence in the form of letter and they were following up with an SMS.
“I am talking about a board entrusted to oversee billions of taxpayers’ money, a board that is supposed to keep the lights of this country on at all times. Now, when they are supposed to appear before us to account, they have the audacity to send a SMS. Is this how they take the issues of accountability seriously?” he said.
DA MP Alf Lees came out in support of Hadebe, and suggested the Eskom board was not fit to hold office.
“I think the problem is more of a problem of appointments to the board. It does need a strong and permanent appointment to the chair of the board, and perhaps of the members of the board themselves need to be looked at very closely. I understand exactly what the issue is with regard to treating the committee with contempt, but I think it a bigger problem with appointments to the board,” said Lees.
Hlengwa pointed out that they have had problems with Makgoba’s board before.
“I agree with you. I think we’ve had issues with this board and Eskom, and I continue to believe there are serious shortcomings in the operations of management at Eskom. I certainly think the processes of protocol have not been observed. Whether it was a letter or an SMS, for it to arrive this morning is the fundamental issue because they know in the absence of the board we can’t proceed because they are the accounting authority.”
Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter and his team were sent packing, with Scopa resolving to summon the power utility’s board of directors to another meeting next Wednesday.