State power utility Eskom has appointed prominent financial journalist Sikonathi Mantshantsha as its national spokesperson.
In a statement on Wednesday, Eskom said its CEO, André de Ruyter, had announced the appointment to employees earlier in the day. Mantshantsha is expected to start on 1 February, 2020.
De Ruyter was quoted saying, “His appointment is a firm step from our side to strengthen our efforts to improve Eskom’s image, to add another layer of success to our media response strategies in order to be more direct and proactive when engaging with media and other interest groups.”
Journalist of the Year
Mantshantsha is currently a journalist with Scorpio, Daily Maverick‘s investigative journalism unit. He was previously deputy editor at Financial Mail.
He is widely known for his investigative work on Eskom, which won him the Sanlam Journalist of the Year award in 2018.
De Ruyter added, “His extensive media experience, specifically within the energy industry, will benefit his transition into Eskom and allow him to adapt quickly to this dynamic environment.
“I, together with EXCO, am convinced that he will certainly add another layer of success to our efforts to change the fortunes of Eskom.”
From Eskom critic to spin doctor
Mantshantsha has established himself as one of the most strident critics of Eskom, the government’s handling of its crises, and the state capture networks that ravaged it.
In a recent article in the Financial Mail, he said the resignation of Eskom’s chairperson Jabu Mabuza “exposes the bankruptcy of ideas and lack of vision in the ruling political elite, led by the ANC government and [Presient] Cyril Ramaphosa.”
In December during Ramaphosa’s briefing to the nation on the Eskom load shedding crisis, Mantshantsha told the President that he “should have stayed in Egypt” because he had not offered a solution.
He has also been equally scathing of former Eskom executives such as ex-Acting CEO Matshela Koko, who he said failed to stop load shedding.
As the face of Eskom’s media liaison, Mantshantsha will now have to defend the institution he has been most critical of.
The embattled utility has managed to keep the lights on since the last round of load shedding earlier in January.