There’s something tragic about the crisis at Eskom, the power utility that is facing going-concern issues. For a start, how was it possible to put together a full, decent board of nonexecutive directors — with a diverse mix of skills — in a matter of days when the shareholder minister spent almost a year setting, and missing, a string of deadlines for composing a new board? That this was possible suggests that Eskom, like all key state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and public institutions, failed to be shielded from the political machinations of the governing party, which reverberate through the rest of government and SOE employees. Interestingly, the announcement of the new board came from the office of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa in his capacity as the man in charge of SOE reforms, in effect sidelining Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown. Brown wasn’t the only one whose opinion seemed to be ignored. Also missing was the imprint of the embattled sitting head of state, who had p...

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