Eskom task team member says she resigned after scope became clear

Sy Gourrah, one of the eight members originally appointed to Eskom’s sustainability task team, says she asked to be recused from the team as soon as it was appointed.

President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed the task team in mid-December after the power utility was forced to repeatedly implement load shedding. 

“The main reason [that I asked to be recused] is that my company does a lot of work with Eskom,” said Gourrah, the head of ACTOM Power Systems. “As soon as it had been announced, I asked to be recused.”

She added that she asked to be excused from the panel when she saw the scope of its work and did not participate in any of its functions.

Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko earlier confirmed to Fin24 that Gourrah had asked to leave the task team in December.

"She requested to be recused as the company she works for has dealings with Eskom and felt to avoid a potential conflict of interest, she asked the President to release her from the panel. The President acceded to her request," Diko said.

Former Eskom CEO Brian Dames also announced in December that he was stepping down from the task team to avoid potential conflicts of interest. Dames is the CEO of African Rainbow Energy and Power, which has coal and renewables business units.

The panel has been given until the end of January to present a set of initial recommendations to turn the power utility around. Fin24 understands from someone close to the task team that this deadline will be met, despite the two members who have left. Government is under pressure to urgently come up with a plan for Eskom. 

The request for National Treasury to take up R100 billion of Eskom's debt could cause the country’s overall debt ratio to jump 2 percentage points from the current 55.8%, according to ratings agency Moody’s at the end of 2018.