Former Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona says he believes he could have solved the load-shedding issues at the national power utility if he had been given the time.
Testifying before the parliamentary inquiry into state capture at Eskom, Matona, who was CEO for a few months between October 2014 and March 2015, said when he arrived at Eskom, the entity’s major financial issues seemed to be on track following a massive government cash injection.
But Matona said, operational issues, and generation needed urgent attention. During periods of load-shedding, diesel was being used in Eskom’s peaking plants “putting massive pressure on finances”.
But he said, he and his team had been making “steady gains” in ensuring that the lights stayed on – among them the commissioning of the first power plant at Medupi.
“I’m confident I could have turned it around”, Matona, who has been a public servant since 1994, said.
Questioned by EFF MP Floyd Shivambu about whether the “narrative that this could only be stopped by Brian Molefe”, Matona said: “I was confident I could overcome the problem.”
He said that while he did not want to take away from Molefe’s experience, “Brian Molefe could not have done it alone. He arrived at Eskom and found the key, the plans and the team fighting this war.”
Matona was suspended from the power utility by its brand new board which was overhauled by Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown in December 2014.
Matona said the board he encountered when he arrived had been ravaged by “tension, turmoil and infighting”. The new board, which MPs said had many Gupta-linked members, wasted no time in suspending Matona.
Matona said the board were still undergoing inductions in January and February and had not yet held a proper board meeting when he was suspended.
He said the suspension took him by surprise and there was little explanation for this.