Dames Quits Ramaphosa's New Eskom Task Team Over Conflict

(Bloomberg) -- Just five days after President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed a rescue team for Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., one of its members, Brian Dames, the former chief executive officer of the South African power utility, has quit.

Dames, who is now CEO of African Rainbow Energy and Power, which focuses on clean energy investment and was founded by Ramaphosa’s brother-in-law Patrice Motsepe, told the president that he is unable to serve on the Eskom Sustainability Task Team, the presidency said in a statement Wednesday. He has “noted concerns raised regarding a perceived conflict of interest relating to the scope of work and terms of reference” of the Eskom task team, it said.

Dames Quits Ramaphosa's New Eskom Task Team Over Conflict

Ramaphosa replaced the leadership of Eskom earlier this year to help root out corruption and graft that contributed to the utility’s unsustainable financial state at the company that supplies almost all of the nation’s electricity. While that management has taken measures to increase transparency, a turnaround plan for the business has been delayed. The president on Dec. 14 appointed an eight-person team to advise the government on resolving Eskom’s operational, structural and financial challenges.

The National Union of Mineworkers, the biggest labor group at Eskom, criticized the appointment of Dames and identified him as “highly and badly conflicted,” due to his current involvement with independent power producers, or IPPs, that supply electricity to Eskom.

South African labor groups have opposed renewable power IPPs because they say it will reduce the number of jobs in coal.

Ramaphosa is married to Tshepo Motsepe, the sister of African Rainbow Energy and Power chairman Patrice Motsepe, a connection also criticized on social media after the appointment of Dames.

The president’s task team is expected to submit its initial recommendations by the end of January.

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