Koko backs call to reinstate departed experts to save Eskom

Former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko agrees that bringing back former skilled leaders would save the power utility from implosion and keep South Africa’s lights on.

Koko’s response followed a warning by the EFF leader Julius Malema that the country is on the verge of a total grid collapse if President Cyril Ramaphosa does not bring back former CEOs of state-owned enterprises including Koko, Brian Molefe and Jacob Maroga, among others.

Malema told the media this week that it is imperative experts such as former engineers, who had left the power utility, be recalled if a grid blackout is to be averted.

“These industry experts, along with Indian, coloured and white engineers who left the utility could save the country from the impending total darkness,” Malema said.

Molefe and Koko, following the Zondo Commission recommendations, face numerous criminal charges relating to corruption at Eskom.

“There are capable South Africans who can bring stability to Eskom, but they are unfairly and irrationally being persecuted in the name of the so-called state capture.

“Brian [Molefe] must come back. Matshela Koko must come back, including all those Indian, coloured and white engineers,” he sad.

“We are in a crisis. If they love this country, they must not even ask for payment. They must come back and rescue this country.”

Malema charged that politicians in cahoots with coal “monopolists” hated Molefe with a passion, saying this is because Molefe knew “how to pile coal”, which meant “he could demand less expensive price options”.

“After piling, he would turn to the monopolists and say to them, ‘this is my price, or you can go’. They never liked him because they could not bully him around. When there were allegations about the Guptas, we had to say, ‘he has to be investigated’.

“We are heading for a crisis, and here is a man who can come and help us. This includes [Jacob] Maroga. All these guys must come back, put their heads together and say, ‘how do we save our country’?”

He explained further: “I’m not saying drop the charges against them. The man [Molefe] has got a skill. He can make rational decisions that are in the best interest of the country. I am not saying he is innocent.

“All I’m saying is, we are in a crisis, and here is a man with skills. Can’t we humble ourselves and go and ask him to come [back] and help us?”

Molefe and Maroga were not available for comment, but Koko has welcomed Malema’s suggestion.

“The EFF has its heart at the right place. They don’t have an exaggerated sense of the rule of law. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty,” said Koko through his Twitter page.

“No one who is in the know should be excluded from contributing to stopping loadshedding, except when they are convicted by a court of law.”

He added that loadshedding is “debilitating to the economy”, saying there is “no sign of reprieve”.

“I would have never thought we would have a discussion at the national level about the possibility of a national blackout in my lifetime. It pains me. It hurts,” he said.

Maroga, who headed the utility for two years from 2007 to 2009, has been credited with helping the state-owned entity accrue savings of R22-billion, something not previously achieved at the utility and far cry for an organisation burdened with routine bailouts.

Maroga’s contract was terminated in 2009 following disagreements with former board chairperson Bobby Godsell.

The board said at the time that he had resigned voluntarily. However, the high court in Johannesburg ruled a year later that the termination of his contract was unlawful.

Judge Moroa Tsoka ruled that reinstating him was impractical as a relationship between him and the board had been damaged beyond repair.

Molefe was appointed as Eskom CEO in 2015, in what many political commentators labelled “a Gupta appointment”.

He resigned in 2016 and was replaced by Koko, a chemical engineer, who was fired by Ramaphosa in 2018.

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