Eskom and its COO, Jan Oberholzer, are parting ways, the company has announced, saying it was a “mutual agreement”.
Oberholzer’s last day will be on July 31. The company said the COO had been on a fixed-term contract to support the Koeberg nuclear power plant and Kusile plant.
“Eskom expresses gratitude to Mr Jan Oberholzer for his dedicated service, expertise and valuable contributions during his tenure. We wish him well in his future endeavours,” it said, in a terse statement.
The company did not announce a replacement.
Oberholzer took up the position of COO in 2018. His departure follows the removal of Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter in February after he revealed serious allegations about corruption.
De Ruyter, in his book Truth to power, said Oberholzer was “probably the hardest worker I’ve ever come across”. The former Eskom CEO reported that in late 2022 the COO had been sidelined and that he had “become persona non grata”.
The surprise departure of Oberholzer comes as Eskom struggles to provide power to South Africa. Eskom announced Stage 6 load shedding on the weekend, reducing this as the week began.
Yesterday, the company said breakdowns accounted for 15,747 MW of capacity, while planned maintenance accounted for another 1,946 MW.
Eskom expects power demand to increase towards the weekend, raising the risk of more load shedding. Cold weather has had an impact on demand, while also reducing domestic solar photovoltaic capacity.
“Load shedding is unacceptable and going to higher stages, such as Stage 6, should not become the norm,” Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said at a media briefing this week. The minister went on to say he was “very, very worried” about the Koeberg plant.
The first unit at Koeberg is due to see its 40-year licence expire in July 2024, while the second expires in July 2025. There are efforts under way to extend their operations, but to do so requires strict certification.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has said Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe should “carry the full blame for sabotaging the Koeberg nuclear power plant’s life extension project”. Mantashe, the DA said, refused assistance from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).