Serial chairman Jabu Mabuza is seemingly the best candidate to lead a turnaround at power utility Eskom despite leaving unfinished business at Telkom, which he has helped rescue from the brink of disaster over the past five years. Risking a long-cultivated reputation as a business maverick in the leisure and entertainment industry, he joined a floundering Telkom — and is on a rescue mission again. Today Telkom has pared historical losses and has become an impressively lean operation under his leadership. Miriam Altman, former head of strategy at Telkom who joined the firm in 2013, says: "There was a lot of telecommunications strategy that went into what we did, but actually the turnaround was more predicated on a set of principles that could be applied to any [state-owned enterprise] or company." One of the strengths Mabuza brought to Telkom was the recognition of a need to manage politics. "You can fall asleep in a Telkom AGM [annual general meeting] now, they are so boring. They u...

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