Former Eskom board chair and renowned businessman Jabu Mabuza has passed away from complications related to COVID-19.
“It is with deep sadness and sorrow to inform you of the passing of our beloved husband and father Dr Jabu Mabuza,” the Mabuza family said in a statement issued on Wednesday evening, 16 June 2021.
The family said at 63 years old, Mabuza lived his life beautifully and remained committed to the transformation of the country’s economy.
“He was a pillar of strength for his family, a dedicated servant of the country, an activist in empowering black entrepreneurs and committed to work for the transformation of corporate SA,” the Mabuza family further said.
Despite never finishing university, he was never held back by his decision to leave. His first foray into leadership came when he helped to found the Foundation for African Business and Consumer Services, and in 1990, he was made chief executive of the company. That was his first, but certainly not last rodeo:
He’s also the current Chairman of the Casino Association of South Africa (CASA), President of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), Executive Chairman of Sphere Holdings and was most recently made Chairman of the Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) on 20 October 2016.
Not only was he a director and CEO of the popular Southern Sun and Tsogo Sun Hospitality Groups, but he served nine years on the board of South African Tourism. He was also the previous chair of Telkom, just for good measure. If you want an executive with experience in plenty of different fields, Jabu Mabuza is your man.
In 2018, President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed him as Eskom’s chairperson. In July 2019, Mabuza then became the power utility’s acting CEO, following the resignation of Phakamani Hadebe. He was brought in as one of the first replacements following the Eskom inquiry, which booted out officials linked to state capture.
Jabu Mabuza told the State Capture Inquiry in March that he owns companies that provide boiler services and repairs to the utility giant. This has all the hallmarks of a conflict of interest, but the Eskom chief maintains that these deals with Babcock are protected by a “blind trust” – meaning Mabuza can’t benefit from the relationship.
Despite this provision, he was still lambasted by the EFF for what they call an “inappropriate” business arrangement. They have also criticised Mabuza for creating a “web of dishonesty” and “deceiving the people of South Africa”: There’s no doubt they’ll be simmering over his promotion, too.
Mabuza is survived by his wife and three children.
“He was a gallant fighter for the political and economic freedom of South Africans. On this day in 1976, he had joined thousands of black youths who demanded the end of Bantu education. He was later expelled for participating in that seminal protest that exposed the brutality of the apartheid regime and propelled the struggle for liberation”