President supports appointment of Eskom chief

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Eskom Source: Google Images

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the appointment of a new permanent Group Chief Executive at Eskom is an important step towards restoring stability and forging a sustainable path at the strategic entity. 

“The Eskom board, working with government, continues to pursue a turnaround plan to address its huge debt, its liquidity problems and its operational challenges…. We are undertaking these measures in support of the overriding effort to address the unemployment crisis,” said the President on Thursday.

The Ministry of Public Enterprises earlier this week announced Andre de Ruyter as Eskom’s new group chief executive. De Ruyter is currently the CEO at Nampak, the continent’s largest packaging company.

He will commence his duties at Eskom on 15 January 2020.

The President, speaking at a meeting with the Black Business Council at the Union Buildings in Tshwane, said the security of energy was critical if local industries are to flourish.

He spoke about the recent SA Investment Conference, which put the country firmly on the path to securing R1.2 trillion in investment over five years.

“We have just concluded the second South Africa Investment Conference, which resulted in R363 billion in investment commitments.

“At the inaugural Investment Conference in 2018, local companies committed in the region of R157 billion. This year, they committed just over R262 billion. What this says to us is that local business confidence is slowly but surely returning.”

He said while foreign direct investment is welcomed, it is the local businesses and industries that government really wants to see ploughing capital back into the economy.

“Local business must be at the forefront of our national investment drive. When you reinvest in our economy, it gives confidence to foreign investors that this is a good place to bring their money.

“What this trend signals is that our economic reform agenda is gaining traction. It suggests that there is less reticence in the local business community to commit capital to new operations or to expand existing operations,” said the President.

He said government has worked consistently to address the concerns of business. 

“We have worked to improve policy certainty and the ease of doing business, remove regulatory impediments, maintain macroeconomic stability, reduce public debt and fix our state-owned enterprises.

“Policy reform has taken place in key areas like mining, oil and gas, telecoms, energy and immigration. Measures to reduce the cost of doing business are being implemented, including reductions in rail and port tariffs.”

The master plans in the poultry and clothing and textiles sectors have been concluded.

An Investment and Infrastructure Office is being established in the Presidency to coordinate the country’s investment strategy and infrastructure drive. “We are in the process of setting up the Infrastructure Fund to leverage investments from financial institutions, multilateral development banks, asset managers and commercial banks.”

The President said in his monthly meetings with leaders of government, business, labour and communities to track commitments made at last year’s Jobs Summit, stakeholders are focused on the practical work needed to protect existing jobs and create new ones.