The board of Eskom suspended its chief executive, Tshediso Matona and three other senior officials on Thursday as it launched an independent inquiry into ongoing poor performance.

South Africa’s struggling state power utility has been unable to manage a crumbling infrastructure. The move comes as frequent power outages hit businesses and households across the country, severely affecting an already ailing economy and causing the government to slash its growth forecasts for the year. The power crisis, which has deepened this year, is also blamed for hitting investment in industry and damaging the reputation of the country.
Tshediso Matona
Mr Matona who was only appointed to the post in August as the utility’s woes worsened. Zethembe Khoza, a non-executive member of Eskom’s board, takes over as interim chief executive. The group’s finance director is among the other executives suspended.

Zola Tsotsi, Eskom’s chairman, said the suspensions were to ensure that the inquiry — expected to last three months — was as “transparent and “uninhibited as possible”.

“We have asked the executives to step down in the interests of achieving results,” he said. “We hope to come out of this with a better grasp of all the challenges facing the business, and most importantly, with solutions.”

Eskom has been forced to implement almost daily scheduled outages as its ageing, insufficiently maintained infrastructure breaks down with increasing frequency. It is building two big coal-fired power stations — Medupi and Kusile — that will add 9,600 MW to the grid.