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Chairman of troubled S.Africa power company quits

Published on 31/03/2015

The chairman of South Africa's troubled state-owned power company Eskom stepped down Tuesday, two weeks after the controversial suspension of its CEO and three other top executives.

The resignation of Zola Tstosi comes as Eskom struggles to keep the lights on in Africa’s most advanced economy, with rolling blackouts hampering economic growth.

Standard & Poor last week downgraded Eskom’s credit rating to junk status after the board suspended the four executives pending a probe into the company’s problems.

Tsotsi’s stepped down as a director and chairman immediately after the board “held a constructive discussion about charting a way forward for the power utility,” Eskom said in a statement.

“This step, the board believes, will ensure that Eskom can focus on the challenges facing it and sets the company on a new path to regain the confidence of all stakeholders.”

The vital power producer, which generates more than 95 percent of South Africa’s electricity, has been hobbled by years of underinvestment and ageing infrastructure, as well as governance problems.

Eskom heavily relies on the government for infrastructure development, including the ongoing construction of two gigantic coal-fired power stations, Medupi and Kusile, which have been bogged down by delays.

Despite consumer anger over intermittent blackouts since November, the utility is on Wednesday set to impose a 12,69 percent hike in prices.