Meet Eskom: The South African power utility giant where CEOs go to die

Why has this power facility giant in South Africa gone through 10 CEOs in the last decade?


June 5, 2019

Fun fact: Eskom, a power utility firm in South Africa, has employed 10 CEOs over the last decade — and the company has added another casualty to the list.

Last week, current CEO Phakamani Hadebe announced he will step down next month after yet again only 365 days on the throne.

No string cheese in the kitchen, ’er what?

Since 2013, no Eskom CEO has stayed at the helm longer than 1 year — and 8 of them resigned for personal reasons.

According to Quartz, Hadebe cited the job’s “unimaginable demands” having “a negative impact” on his health as his reason for leaving — a mild response compared to Matshela Koko, Eskom’s acting CEO between 2016 and 2017, who described the role as a “poisoned chalice.”

It’s hard to be number 1

Eskom is arguably South Africa’s most important organization, which currently generates 95% of the country’s electricity — that’s for almost 57m people.

On top of that, 90% of Eskom’s earnings before EBITDA goes toward the company’s debt, which stands at almost $35B — raising the question of why anyone would consider taking the job at all.

What’s that? South African CEOs rake in 64x the wage of regular workers… on second thought, what’s one year of sobbing in your car to and from work every day?

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