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Eskom saga: Questions raised over Ben Ngubane's reputation

Ben Ngubane has been appointed to replace Zola Tsotsi as acting chairperson.

FILE: The now acting Eskom Chairman sat on the board of the Land Bank and the SABC. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Questions were being raised on Tuesday about Eskom's acting chairman Ben Ngubane's reputation and his appointment to the ailing power giant, following the departure of several members of its top management.

Suspended Chairman Zola Tsotsi resigned on Monday night after a marathon board meeting to decide his fate.

Eskom said he stepped down in the interests of the nation and to allow the board to focus on core challenges.

In the past month, Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona, and three executives were suspended and now Tsotsi has resigned leaving a leadership vacuum at the utility.

Ngubane has been appointed as acting chairman - the same man who sat on the board of the Land Bank and the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), where he was criticised for supporting Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

It's alleged that he was tipped for the position of Eskom chairman late last year, with allegations that the president supported him while the African National Congress apparently didn't.

Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni said Ngubane now had an even more difficult task ahead of him.

"Ben Ngubane will have to do something extraordinary, given the fact that Eskom is far more important to the economic growth than SABC was."

Meanwhile, Tsotsi has been unavailable for comment.

CALLS FOR STABILITY AT ESKOM

There were calls for stability at Eskom on Tuesday following the overnight departure of its chairperson.

Earlier on Monday Tsotsi maintained he had done nothing wrong and appeared confident about remaining in his position in the face of allegations that he'd interfered in operational matters.

His resignation follows repeated calls for him to be axed by unions and an attempted vote of no confidence last week.

Majority union at Eskom, the National Union of Mineworkers' Frans Baleni has welcomed Tsotsi's resignation.

"The sooner we get stability the better to allow the dedicated team to focus on taking Eskom forward."

But energy expert Chris Yelland raised concerns about Eskom's leadership.

"Not only do we have an acting chairman but we also have an acting CEO and an acting financial director, so the entire senior executive of Eskom is missing."