BRIAN Molefe marched into Eskom in April and promptly kicked the crippled power utility clean out of its wheelchair. While he’s been helped by the bottom falling out of the resources sector and power rationing for major consumers, there hadn’t been load shedding for 140 days by end-December. Molefe is anything but sweet-tempered. With his seat barely warm, he and the National Energy Regulator of South Africa traded punches over Eskom’s demand for a 25% tariff increase, double the amount the regulator had planned. Molefe lost. In September he got into a brawl with Glencore over its 60%-owned Optimum coal unit which was placed in business rescue. Glencore said its cost of production way outstripped the price Eskom was contracted to pay. Molefe wasn’t interested in Glencore’s problems: it either delivered the coal at the contracted price for another two years, or ponied up penalties. He also wanted R2bn for two years’ worth of coal that Eskom said was sub-standard. Things went sour with Exxaro Resources, too, when Eskom refused to renew its 40 year contract with the coal miner saying it wasn’t supplying enough coal to the Arnot power station. Its R900 a tonne price tag was also too much. Exxaro started retrenching employees in mid-December, so it’s no surprise that next to take on the mighty Molefe is the National Union of Mineworkers. It’s sure to be a showdown.
LIFE OF BRIAN
Molefe has had an eye-watering international education, including a post graduate diploma in economics from the University of London and management and executive programs at Harvard, as well as Harvard and Wharton Business Schools. He got an honorary PhD from the University of Scotland in 2015. His shed load of leadership positions include heading up the Public Investment Corporation Limited and Transnet. On some weekends he takes off on his Harley; on others, his boat.
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