“Let us resolve to discard egoism, ideas of personal prestige and amour propre and strive instead to cultivate the kind of personality which will breed mutual trust and appreciation.”
This was a message Edouard Muller communicated to his staff after his appointment as Nestlé president in 1937.
Nestlé faced huge internal and external problems. Muller did not allow the challenges of Nazi repression and World War 2 to stop him from launching Nescafe and Nestea, which changed the fortunes of Nestlé.
Leaders see crises as opportunities. It was therefore disappointing to hear Deputy President David Mabuza hijacking Eskom’s woes for his narrow political agenda. He wants to take over from Cyril Ramaphosa. The indirect attacks on Pravin Gordhan and the Eskom executive are part of that agenda.
The man-made problems at Eskom are well known and as old as our democracy. It is easy to blame Eskom executives, but it is Mabuza and the collective ANC leadership from 1994 that should accept responsibility for the damage they did to Eskom through neglect.
I felt sorry for Mabuza when he struggled to explain the fourth industrial revolution. Yet suddenly he is now an expert on complicated engineering problems at Eskom.
Intel’s Andy Grove could teach Mabuza a thing or two about leading during a time of crisis. When Intel lost $475m because of a flaw in its Pentium microprocessor he did not outsource responsibility by blaming others. He worked with his team to solve the problem.
This is what Eskom needs — the whole country working together. What needs to happen? Give the new CEO space to do his work, stop political interference — politicians must stay out of the Eskom boardroom — disband the war room as it is a distraction, the ANC leadership must not use Eskom for its factional battles, and the new Eskom executive must take the country into its confidence.
Dr Lucas Ntyintyane
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