Eskom Board member decries unnecessary empowerment rules

There’s a fight brewing between an Eskom Board member who questioned BEE procurement rules and the Black Business Council (BBC). Mteto Nyati is an accomplished and successful businessman who joined the SOE from the private sector. He sits on the Eskom Board as the new head of the business operations performance committee. In the piece below written by Myles Illidge, first published on MyBroadband, Nyati questions, among other things, why: “When the supplier of equipment is an international company … you have to use middlemen to satisfy the localisation rule.” Creating another layer through which money has to flow to get something done or fixed makes the process inefficient and more expensive, says Nyati. But his comments have landed him in hot water with the BBC, which has requested a meeting with the Board chair to find out if Nyati’s views are representative of the rest of the Board. – Michael Appel

Black Business Council slams Eskom director for criticising BEE rules

By Myles Illidge

The Black Business Council (BBC) has slammed Eskom board member and former MTN CEO Mteto Nyati for his statement that South Africa’s empowerment rules hamper the power utility’s performance.

The BBC believes Nyati’s words are a deliberate diversion from improving its Energy Availability Factor to 75% and providing South Africans with a reliable electricity supply.

“The Black Business Council strongly condemns the irresponsible and reckless utterances purported to be those of Mr Mteto Nyati regarding transformation and localisation,” it said in a statement.

“The purported views deliberately omit to mention corruption that was committed by white-owned companies at Eskom, as highlighted by the Zondo Commission.”

It added that Nyati’s views project that blacks are being done a favour in their own country, where they are a majority.

“The BBC have heeded the Eskom chairperson’s call to be given space and time so that the Board can conduct a thorough and proper analysis of the challenges at Eskom and suddenly the Board wants to do away with government policies and legislation, without following due process,” the BBC said.

“The BBC has requested an urgent meeting with the Eskom Board to be clarified about the interview and to understand whether Mr Nyati’s purported views represent the views of Eskom.”

Nyati — one of South Africa’s most prolific tech CEOs — said empowerment rules at Eskom must be lifted for the power utility to solve the electricity crisis.

Nyati served as the head of MTN South Africa, Microsoft South Africa, and Altron after starting his IT career at IBM in 1996.

Currently, Nyati is in charge of the Eskom board’s new business operations performance committee, which works with management to optimise the troubled energy provider.

“It’s our responsibility as the board to remove any blockages or challenges in the way of the management team so they can focus on doing what they know best,” he said.

Using procurement as an example, Nyati said unnecessary empowerment rules inhibit Eskom.

“Procurement rules are not as agile as they should be, including rules which say you cannot use suppliers that are not local,” he said.

“When the supplier of equipment is an international company … you have to use middlemen to satisfy the localisation rule.”

Nyati said there is no place for these rules at Eskom, given its precarious position.

“We need to remove costs from the equation. We need to make sure we are connecting directly with the people who have the knowledge that will get us out of this crisis as soon as possible,” he said.

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