‘I am not going to be told to behave as if I am a naughty 12-year-old school girl’ – Eskom board member Busisiwe Mavuso

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The battle between Eskom board member and head of Business Leadership SA, Busisiwe Mavuso, and the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) continued to play out on Monday in an interview on Radio 702.

The interview discussed the incident in which Mavuso was told to leave a meeting with Scopa last week after she said that it was due to the ANC-led government’s failures that caused the damage at the power utility over the years.

Mavuso claims she was defending an insinuation about Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter’s performance being the reason for the power utility’s failures.

In the meeting with Scopa, Mavusa said the board should be held accountable for the decisions they have made during their tenure, however, they could not answer for matters that pre-date the board.

She said De Ruyter had been brought in to clean up Eskom.

“As André has said we will avail ourselves, we should be held accountable, chairperson, to ensure Kusile is finished by 2023. But everything else, honestly, we cannot be the fall guy for this ANC-led government,” said Mavuso during the meeting.

Scopa was conducting oversight visits at Medupi and Kusile power stations last week before it met the board of Eskom.

In a radio interview on Monday morning, Mavuso reiterated that the “new” board could and should be held accountable for decisions made in their tenure, but the committee “should not ask questions if they were not prepared to hear the answers”.

“There is no way I can answer about Medupi and Khusile without referring to the history, so don’t ask questions that you are not prepared to hear answers for.

“To claim that I came to the meeting with a prepared speech is absolutely ludicrous because I merely answered a question that he (Scopa chairperson, Mkhuleko Hlengwa) put to the board. And because you do not like the answer to the question, do not give me an ultimatum,” Mavuso said.

Mavuso said she felt disrespected and that Hlengwa’s request that she behave was derogatory.

“I am not going to be told to behave as if I am a naughty 12-year-old schoolgirl.

“If we want SOEs to be filled with people who will behave and be pliable to Parliament, then we must say so. We must make those appointments accordingly. I do not sit on that Eskom board as an ANC deployee, as he puts it apparently. It is just that thinking that is problematic. When we sit there, we sit as independent professionals to give an independent view on the overall running of the utility,” Mavuso said.

In the same Radio 702 interview, Hlengwa said he was not going to engage in a public spat with Mavuso as he had a responsibility to Parliament to ensure that accountability was upheld.

“Some of us in our political capacities agree with her that this is an ANC mess. That is not in dispute. She raised the right issue in the wrong meeting with the wrong people. We were not there on a political expedition,” Hlengwa said.

He said that Mavuso’s conduct was not consistent with her obligations as a board member as it was a meeting of law and not to engage in party political discussions.

“It is not a secret that the relationship is difficult between Eskom and the committee because we want to see things change in Eskom.

In a statement issued by the power utility on Monday morning, it confirmed it had “constructive and robust engagements” with Scopa.

Eskom said it appreciated and understood the committee’s input.

“We further noted Scopa’s undertaking to engage key arms of government such as law enforcement and municipalities which we rely on to operate effectively combat entrenched networks of corruption and to maintain our liquidity.

“Lastly, Eskom will continue to implement Scopa’s recommendations to demonstrate the entity’s commitment to operational effectiveness and fiscal prudence and to ensure that we can deliver on our mandate,” the statement concluded.