South Africa’s Eskom sticks with Phakamani Hadebe as CEO

South Africa’s government has announced the appointment of Phakamani Hadebe as chief executive of state power firm Eskom, putting an end to interim appointments since 2016.

On Thursday, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan told reporters that “Cabinet has approved the appointment of Mr Phakamani Hadebe as the new group chief executive of Eskom. This is a reflection of the excellent work he has done over the last few months at the institution.”

Hadebe had been Eskom interim CEO since January, following an intervention by then-Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, after the company got tangled in corruption scandals surrounding ousted president Jacob Zuma and the Gupta family. Former CEO, Brian Molefe resigned in November 2016 after a report linked him to the Gupta family, whose relationship with Zuma is the subject of a South African judicial inquiry into state corruption.

A former head of investment banking at Barclays Africa and before that a CEO of Land Bank, Hadebe’s interim CEO tenure saw to the aversion of a liquidity crisis in Eskom earlier this year, as a result of securing billions of rand in emergency funding from banks.

Its future is, however, uncertain because of financial crisis stemming from reduced power demand and widespread allegation of corruption that has greatly affected profits.

Since assuming office, Ramaphosa has been revamping the country and Eskom has been top priority as he looks to reverse years of economic stagnation and mismanagement.

Ratings agency, S&P Global in February  referred to Eskom as “junk” following the management’s report that the company’s balance sheet was not sustainable after a sharp slide in profits in January.

In April, Eskom said it was considering privatization of its mortgage businesses to stabilize its financial situation, and the national treasury has begun a pre-qualification process for bids.

The state owned energy firm with a financial loan book of R8.7bn (over $724 million) is exploring the possibility of a total shares sale in all Eskom Finance Company (EFC)—a subsidiary that specializes in mortgage lending to employees—through a competitive tender process, as shown on a government tender website.