Eskom's revolving door: 10 CEOs in 10 years

Jabu Mabuza is the 10th CEO at Eskom, in 10 years. The chairperson was appointed acting CEO of the power utility by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan this week. He is expected to hold the fort for the next three months while the search for a permanent CEO continues.

Former CEO Phakamani Hadebe resigned in May this year, due to the "unimaginable demands" of the job which had a negative impact on his health, Fin24 previously reported

At a briefing on Eskom's financial results on Tuesday, Hadebe described the challenges plaguing Eskom.

"The past 18 months have been challenging…The mandate that was given to the board [in January 2018] was very simple: Deal with Eskom's weak financial position, declining revenue and governance failures which threaten the sustainability of the company. It was financial oversight, revenue issues and governance. We were unfortunately oblivious to the underlying factors," he said.

Fin24 recaps all of Eskom's CEOs – permanent and acting - over the past decade.

Mpho Makwana | November 2009 - June 2010

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - 23 November 2010:

Makwana was appointed in an acting capacity in November 2009, after former CEO Jacob Maroga resigned. Maroga later went on to challenge Eskom, but did not win the court battle.

Makwana served as acting chairperson and CEO simultaneously, while the power utility finalised its recruitment of a new CEO, according to a biography on Makwana available on Eskom's website.

Makwana had previously served as non-executive director of the board of directors at the utility from July 2002. He had also served on a few of the board's committees including the audit and remuneration committees.

His term as Eskom board chairperson lasted for a year (between June 2010 and June 2011).

His term as acting CEO ended when Brian Dames was appointed permanent CEO in July 2010.

Makwana is known for leading the team that kept the lights on during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Makwana is now the independent non-executive chairperson of ArcelorMittal and lead independent director at Nedbank Group.

Brian Dames | July 2010 – March 2014

Brian Dames

Dames was appointed CEO of Eskom in July 2010. He had started his career at Eskom in 1987, as a graduate in training at the Koeberg Nuclear power station. He held various positions at Eskom preceding his appointment as CEO. This includes nuclear physicist at Koeberg, power station manager at coal-fired plants, general manager at the nuclear division. He was also a chief executive at Eskom's subsidiary – Eskom Enterprises.

Dames left the power utility in March 2014, this after resigning in December 2013 over personal reasons. In an interview with Biznews, he said he wanted to spend more time with his family.

He is known for stabilising Eskom following the first bout of load shedding in 2007 and for keeping the lights on during his tenure.

Dames is now the CEO of African Rainbow Energy & Power (AREP) – which focuses on clean energy solutions such as renewables, hydropower and gas. Dames stepped down from the President's Sustainability Task team late last year over a perceived conflict of interest. The chairperson of AREP is Patrice Motsepe, President Cyril Ramaphosa's brother-in-law.

At an AREP briefing, on the sidelines on the African Energy Indaba in February 2019, Dames said he accepted the position on the presidential task team in the first place because he is a "proud South African" and wanted to help fix the situation at Eskom, but having reflected on the ethical issues raised he decided it was best to hold "the highest standards of ethics" and decided to step down.

Dames is also on the boards of Nedbank, Roshcon and Rotek Industries.

Collin Matjila | April 2014 – September 2014

Collin Matjila

Matjila served as acting CEO following Dames' resignation, before passing the baton just months later to permanent CEO Tshediso Matona.

His name however cropped up in the Gupta Leaks. News24, amaBhungane and Daily Maverick reported in June 2017 that Matjila's CV was circulated among the Guptas and their business associate Salim Essa and Duduzane Zuma shortly before his appointment.

During his short term as acting CEO, Matjila reportedly disregarded legal advice and approved a three-year, R43m New Age business breakfast sponsorship. The Guptas owned the New Age newspaper, which has since closed down.

At Parliament's inquiry into Eskom in November 2017, Eskom's former finance director Tsholofelo Molefe testified that Matjila had broken procurement rules at Eskom to favour deals with Gupta-linked businesses. Dames, who appeared before the inquiry a month earlier also testified that Matjila approved the business breakfast deal, Fin24 previously reported.

Since leaving Eskom, Matjila formed Kanana Investments, which focuses on property, energy and agribusiness. He also co-founded the Rural Development Alliance Group which is a 100% black-owned company which provides agricultural solutions in SA and Africa.

Tshediso Matona | October 2014 – April 2015

Matona had close to 20 years experience in government before joining Eskom in October 2014. Matona, was the Director General (DG) of the Department of Trade and Industry between 2006 and 2010, and was the DG of the Department of Public Enterprises from 2011.

According to Eskom's biography on Matona, during his time at the public enterprises department he was "intimately involved" in monitoring Eskom's business and developments in its industry and had been working with Eskom and National Treasury and the Department of Energy to overcome the power utility's challenges.

During his time at Eskom a silo collapsed at Majuba Power Station, which resulted in the resurfacing of load shedding.

Eskom board chairperson Zola Tsotsi suspended Matona in March 2015, reportedly because he and Eskom management allegedly provided unreliable and inconsistent information to a war room, led by then Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. The war room was mandated to deal with the power crisis.

Matona was cleared following the completion of an investigation into the matter, but he resigned and left Eskom in May 2015.

In his testimony before Parliament's inquiry into Eskom in November 2017, Matona took credit for getting Eskom’s plant maintenance programme up and running, even though his successor Brian Molefe is the one who is celebrated for doing so, Fin24 previously reported.

Later in 2015, he was appointed as secretary for national planning in the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation.

Matona is now the interim chairperson of state diamond mining company Alexkor.

Brian Molefe | April 2015 – November 2016

Molefe was seconded from Transnet to serve as Eskom CEO from mid-April 2015. Cabinet in September 2015 approved Molefe's permanent appointment which came into effect on October 1, 2015.

Molefe had previously been involved in state entities such as Telkom, the Airports Company of South Africa, the National Empowerment Fund, among others.

Although Molefe managed to keep the lights on at Eskom, he is known for being implicated in former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's report, State of Capture. He subsequently, in November 2016 resigned from Eskom in the interests of "good corporate governance". 

Matshela Koko was appointed acting CEO while a search for a permanent CEO started.

However, Molefe's journey at Eskom did not end there. Eskom agreed to an early retirement pension payout of R30m for Molefe, he received R11m of the designated amount. After learning this, former Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown intervened and asked the board to find another solution. The board decided to reinstate Molefe, to which Brown agreed as it would be a better alternative for the SA fiscus.

But as a result of public backlash that followed an inter-ministerial committee was appointed to investigate Molefe's reappointment. By the end of May 2017, the committee then reached the conclusion that Brown should order the board to rescind Molefe's reappointment and to provide names of two Eskom executives who could serve as acting CEO.

Molefe would later go on to challenge Eskom for rescinding his reappointment at the courts. The matter is now going to the Constitutional Court, as Molefe is holding out to keep the R30m benefit, Fin24 reported.

Molefe has been implicated in several testimonies before the State Capture commission, related to wrongdoing at state entities Transnet and Eskom.

Matshela Koko | December 2016 – May 2017

Koko joined Eskom in 1996, as an engineer-in-training. He later became head of generation before stepping up as acting CEO after Brian Molefe resigned.

Koko was tasked with turning around the power utility. This involved trying to recover debt owed by municipalities, often involving the courts.

Koko's record however is not without blemish as the Sunday Times reported Impulse International, a firm where his stepdaughter was a director, benefited with R1bn worth of contracts awarded by Eskom over a period of 11 months. 

This resulted in Koko's suspension and a disciplinary hearing followed. He was cleared of wrongdoing late in December 2017, and returned to Eskom on January 8 – as head of generation.

In early 2018, fresh charges were made against Koko, related to "gross negligence" and "serious acts of misconduct". Koko was suspended again. He then resigned in February 2018.

Most recently Matshela's company Matshela Energy received a licence to produce 100 MW of solar energy in Zimbabwe. He has vowed to stop load shedding in Zimbabwe, as he claimed he did in SA.

Johnny Dladla | June 2017 – October 2017


Amid the Brian Molefe fiasco, Eskom appointed Johnny Dladla as acting CEO from mid-June 2017.

Dladla had 22 years of experience within Eskom, he spent five years as a chief executive of Eskom Enterprises.

Then in October 2017, Eskom's board removed Dladla and replaced him with Sean Maritz. At the time, Eskom said its board decided to rotate current executives in the CEO role.

It emerged in the parliamentary inquiry into Eskom that Dladla may have been removed by former board chair Zethembe Khoza because he was cooperating with investigators looking into a deal between Eskom and Gupta-linked Trillian.

Dladla had suspended the contract between Eskom and McKinsey, involving Trillian and commissioned a probe into officials implicated in it, Fin24 previously reported.

Dladla returned to his role as CEO of Eskom Rotek Industries. But he resigned in October 2018 to pursue other business interests.

Sean Maritz | October 2017 - January 2018

Sean Maritz


Maritz, was Eskom's chief information officer and group executive for information technology before he was appointed acting CEO in October 2017.  He replaced Johnny Dladla. At the time, Eskom said its board decided to rotate current executives in the CEO role.

Shortly after his appointment as acting CEO, Maritz came under fire in media reports for not declaring conflict of interest. The Sunday Times reported Maritz hired a friend and fellow church member at a salary of about R100 000 a month without declaring the friendship to Eskom. Two Eskom executives had also accused Maritz of allegedly deleting evidence implicating Gupta companies in controversial deals with Eskom, according to the report.

In January 2018, reports surfaced that Maritz signed off on a R400m payment from Eskom to a Hong Kong bank account, against all legal advice. The payment was believed to be made to secure a R25bn loan from China's Huarong Energy Africa to build or refurbish power stations last year.

Maritz was suspended and resigned in March 2018, before his disciplinary hearing could take place.

In March 2019 at the Zondo Commission of inquiry into State Capture, it was revealed by Eskom Treasurer Andre Pillay that former board chairperson Zethembe Khoza put pressure on Maritz to sign off on the loan agreement.

According to Maritz's LinkedIn profile, he has been working as an independent consultant since March 2018.

Phakamani Hadebe | January 2018 – July 2019

Eskom acting CEO Phakamani Hadebe. (Photo: Netwerk

Hadebe was appointed interim CEO in January 2018, marking the first in a series of sweeping board changes Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan made in several state entities. Cabinet approved his permanent appointment in May 2018.

Hadebe was tasked with leading a turnaround strategy at Eskom which is facing an escalating debt problem, mounting operational challenges that contributed to load shedding and mapping a way forward for the entity.

During his tenure, President Cyril Ramaphosa in December 2018 appointed a Sustainability Task Team which recommended that Eskom be unbundled into three entities.

A Technical Review Team was also appointed earlier this year to combat load shedding after Eskom was forced to implement up to Stage 4 load shedding nationwide.

With the support of government and the board, led by chairperson Jabu Mabuza, Hadebe and his team managed to hold off load shedding for the winter months.

July 31, 2019 was Hadebe's last day at Eskom and he can leave knowing that the power utility successfully recovered R1.3bn irregularly paid to McKinsey. Ten other companies have been identified as owing Eskom money – approximately R72bn.

It is not known what Hadebe will do next, but he does have a history in banking, having been CEO of Corporate and Investment Banking at Barclays Africa. He was also previously CEO of the Land and Agricultural Bank, which he successfully helped turn around during his five year tenure.

Jabu Mabuza | August 2019

Eskom chairman Jabu Mabuza at the interim results


Mabuza will be acting CEO for three months to maintain stability at the organisation, until a permanent CEO appointment is made.

The EFF has said Mabuza's dual role goes against sound governance principles. The Institute of Directors of Southern Africa has also warned that Mabuza's appointment falls short of the the King Code's guidelines for corporate governance.  

Mabuza has a long track record of holding positions on the board of companies in both the public and private sector. He was previously chairperson of Telkom, chairperson of South African Tourism and Business Leadership South Africa. He is chairperson of the Casino Association of South Africa, president of Business Unity South Africa and leader of the CEO Initiative. 

He was appointed chairperson of the Eskom board in January 2018 and had to see the power utility through many challenges, some of which still remain.

The power utility's financial challenges remain a sore thumb and Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has recently tabled a special appropriations bill, allocating R59bn to the entity over two years so that it can meet its financial obligations. It recently posted a net loss of R20.7bn for the 2018/2019 financial year. 

Mabuza and the new eskom CEO - when announced - will work with newly appointed Chief Reorganisation Officer Freeman Nomvalo to carry out the recommendations of the presidential task team. Eskom is presently on the hunt for, what Bloomberg has called the 'toughest CEO job in SA'.