Conflict of interest: Second Eskom task team member quits

By Paul Burkhardt

(Bloomberg) – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s eight-person team appointed in December to advise on strategy at struggling state power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. has lost a second member.

Sy Gourrah of Actom Ltd. asked to be recused last month because “the company she works for has dealings with Eskom,” Khusela Diko, Ramaphosa’s spokeswoman, said by text message. “To avoid a potential conflict of interest, she asked the president to release her from the panel.”

Brian Dames, former chief executive officer of Eskom, quit the team just days after being appointed, also citing a conflict of interest. The resignations add to the pressure on Ramaphosa as he seeks to turn around a utility mired in debt amid waning power demand.

The task team was appointed to assess Eskom’s viability, review its strategy and advise on resolving its debt. Initial recommendations by the team are targeted for the end of January, though the utility’s management has yet to make public its own plan to improve the business.