Will the Last Eskom Executive to Leave the Building Please Keep on the Lights?

I hadn’t been expecting any fireworks from today’s presentation of Eskom’s Interim Results to September, but I was wrong. Good thing I invited myself along (they had failed to). There was one unexpected, but nonetheless electrifying, announcement – that CEO Brian Dames has resigned. Dames, or Danes as my iPhone’s twitter app chose to re-name him, has been a massive improvement on the arrogant thugs who preceded him, and has done an impossible job pretty well. No real explanation why the big boss is being load shedded – just that it was for personal reasons. But Dames’ decision to power down followed uncomfortably soon after Eskom CFO Paul O’Flaherty’s unexpected departure. It leaves a big gap at the top of such an important player. Unless Eskom can bring on more capacity speedily and reliably, we are heading for dark days, indeed. The chat after the presentation was all about why Brian is being dis-charged – he is leaving at the end of March – with no one seeming to think this will be a good thing.
Here are a few of the other issues I noted during the presentation, and before the news of the CEO outage….

– Eskom chairman Zola Tsotsi says the recent emergency, when Eskom ordered big users to cut consumption to keep the system going – was the first since 2008, but the situation has improved over the past 2 weeks.
– Eskom still asks customers to curb demand for electricity. In their weird world enough of a good thing seems to be too much.
– Dames says ZA has a power system that is still constrained, but the system is stable – customers have responded extremely well.
– The 1st power from new Medupi coal-fired power station is due at the end of next year.
– Electricity demand in the next few years is lower than earlier expected. Thanks to a stagnant economy and an army of unemployed (my views, not those of Eskom).
– Eskom made a profit of 12.2 billion rand for the 6 months to September.

Dames signed off by suggesting we should cook on our holiday braai, so we use coal and wood and not his scarce product. If you go on holiday, don’t leave the lights on. Switch them off.

Conclusion: Power cuts are not the only crisis facing Eskom, which now faces a leadership crisis. They need someone exceptional to fill Dames’ shoes, but who would want that awful job?

Tweets of the Day:
Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow){ What nationality is Santa Claus? North Polish.
Matt Lucas (@RealMattLucas): Great news. I hear Cher is reforming.

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