Who holds the megawatts in the Eskom power struggle? If what we're hearing is true, then it sure isn't Bobby Godsell.
When everyone stays quiet, something is usually up. In this case, they’re staying very, very quiet. Bobby Godsell’s office says no statement will be released today. The Public Enterprises Ministry, ditto. The Presidency has the best excuse. He, and his communications staff (i.e. Vincent Magwenya) are in Equatorial Guniea. And while we’ve never tried, we can accept it’s difficult to get a 3G connection connected up there..
Clearly Jacob Maroga is still in office (although he’s at meetings “offsite” today) and the longer he stays on, the stronger his position becomes. Which turns the screw nicely on the other side of this equation. If Bobby Godsell, and the board truly did want him to leave, then what are they doing right now? That is, if Zuma did step in to keep Maroga in his seat, as reported by Fin24.
As always with Eskom there are plenty of conspiracy theories to pick from. We don’t know the exactly is happening, but we can offer some semi-educated guesses. From the reports at hand it seems there was some kind of bust-up between the board and Maroga last week, which apparently culminated in some kind of demand on Thursday night. However that demand was phrased and whatever technicalities may have accompanied it, the end goal was to see the back of Maroga.
But he was very confident when he spoke to Eyewitness News on Friday morning. Which begs the question, what happened between Thursday evening and Friday morning? It would appear a quick call to the Presidential Hotline may have solved the problem of one worried citizen. Zuma’s people aren’t saying, however.
What’s really worrying is the silence from the Public Enterprises Ministry. It is Barbara Hogan who should be front and centre on this, and the fact she isn’t – and she’s not all that shy and retiring a lady – may just mean she’s keeping her powder dry, in case she needs to back or sack someone. If everything had reached equilibrium, then she would be out and about.
This places the board in a difficult position. Godsell is simply too old a hand to not realise that there is no such thing as a draw in a fight between a CEO and a board. If Maroga stays, then Godsell (and perhaps other board members) are on borrowed time. He’s also smart enough to resign before he becomes a lame duck.
So then, if not Maroga, then who? Would you take that job? We wouldn’t, certainly not at the salary on the table. Getting randomly beaten up on the street after you become the guy who trebles the electricity bill requires a little more incentive than that. Something on the order R100 million a year, perhaps.
Our prediction? We hear there’s talk in the Megawatt corridors of some kind of media briefing in the near future. Stay tuned.
By Stephen Grootes
(Grootes reports for Eye Witness News)