by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – FROM the grimy streets of Daveyton to the mecca of global commerce of Davos, Jabu Mabuza’s ascension from a taxi driver to one of South Africa’s foremost business executives was phenomenal.
In a country bereft of public leaders taking responsibility for the myriad of crises South Africa finds itself in, the late business executive will be cherished as a cut from a different cloth.
The former chairman and chief executive officer of the struggling power utility, Eskom, succumbed to coronavirus (COVID-19) complications last Wednesday, aged 63.
While he will always be lauded as one of the most astute South African business leaders, he will also be remembered for owning up to the crisis at the beleaguered power utility between 2018 and 2020.
In an unprecedented announcement in January 2020, he apologised and resigned from his dual role at the troubled state-owned enterprise.
Then, load shedding had degenerated to stage 6, its most sere stage ever.
Coincidentally, Mabuza’s death coincided with days Eskom failed to keep the lights on and resorted to load shedding to cope with demand.
From political leaders to colleagues in the business fraternity, there has been an outpour of grief following the death of Mabuza, who stood out in his fedora hat.
President Cyril Ramaphosa led the condolences, describing the deceased as an outstanding business leader.
Mabuza previously chaired another state entity, Telkom.
Ramaphosa pointed out the late would be remembered for his pathfinder contribution to township and rural economic participation during the apartheid era through his roles in the Southern Africa Black Taxi Association and the Foundation for African Business and Consumer Services (FABCOS).
“COVID-19 has once again struck deep, hard and indiscriminately to deprive our nation of one of our finest and most inspiring compatriots. Jabu Mabuza was a monumental figure on so many terrains of our national life,” the Presidency stated.
Ramaphosa also touched on Mabuza’s career as a taxi driver in Daveyton, east of Johannesburg, to the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he made his presence and values felt in global debates.
“We will miss the warmth of his personality, the forthrightness of his engagement on questions of national importance and the multiple precedents he set and led in the transformation of our economy,” he said of Mabuza.
Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, the Eskom Board Chairperson, said Mabuza led Eskom during one of the most difficult periods in the organisation’s history.
“He was an exemplary leader and an advocate for clean governance. We are grateful for his service at Eskom and salute him for his enormous contribution to our country. His legacy will live on,” Makgoba said.
The deceased served as the chairman of various companies including Anheuser – Busch InBev/SAB Miller – Africa, Business Leadership South Africa and the Casino Association of South Africa and SA Tourism Board.
He also had a stint as deputy chairperson at Sun International and group chief executive officer of Tsogo Sun Holdings.
“The passing of Jabu is tragic, devastating and a great loss for business and our country,” Sipho Pityana, Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) president, lamented.
Pityana’s deputy, Martin Kingston, lauded Mabuza as a patriot.
“Our country has lost a beautiful person and a great leader. We remember his lovely nature and his outstanding leadership, both in the private and public sectors,” Kingston said.
Parliament praised Mabuza as “a remarkable leader, principled patriot and agent of change who led with passion, selflessness and compassion.”
– CAJ News