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SAfrica utility boss back in office

JOHANNESBURG, Nov – The chief executive of South Africa\’s troubled energy giant Eskom, Jacob Maroga, was back at work on Monday after reports of his resignation sparked an uproar, local media said.

The chairman of Eskom\’s board, Bobby Godsell, reportedly told staff on Thursday that Maroga had resigned, provoking an angry response from black business leaders and the youth wing of the ruling African National Congress.

Newspaper reports at the weekend said that both men had offered to resign after offering the board competing visions for the power firm\’s future. When the board sided with Godsell, they reportedly took Maroga up on his offer to step down.

The Black Management Forum slammed the announcement, saying state-owned enterprises were becoming "slaughterhouses" for black professionals.

The turnaround came after The Star newspaper reported that President Jacob Zuma met with Godsell at the weekend.

Eskom spokesman Andrew Etzinger said Maroga was back at work on Monday, and that the confusion over his resignation was an "interpretation of a discussion."

"Mr Maroga\’s interpretation was that he hadn\’t resigned, the board\’s was that he had. Mr Maroga had offered to resign and the board had accepted that offer… it was in a context of a discussion and not a formal resignation," Etzinger told Sapa.
"He\’s resumed his duties as chief executive," Etzinger added.

Meanwhile, Godsell has now stepped down, according to public enterprises ministry spokeswoman Ayanda Shezi.

"Yes, he has resigned," she told the Sapa news agency, but could not provide details on how or when he would formally step down.

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Maroga\’s term with the troubled supplier has seen huge tariff increases to finance the building of new power stations, after countrywide blackouts in January 2008 that showed the strains on the ageing electricity infrastructure.

Eskom posted a loss of 9.7 billion rands (1.2 billion US dollars / 800 million euros) in the last financial year.

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