The department of mineral resources and energy confirmed last week that the Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) board’s chair, Rob Adam, has resigned.
Adam has been in the position for only seven months.
He had previously served as CEO of the corporation and was appointed as chair in December last year when the then minister of energy, Jeff Radebe, fired Kelvin Kemm from the post and disbanded the entire Necsa board over its failure to discharge its fiduciary duties.
Adam’s resignation from Necsa comes amid plans to restructure the state-owned entity. The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has opposed this plan because it entails retrenchments.
Nehawu recently held a picket opposing the anticipated 400 job cuts at Necsa and called for the resignation of the recently appointed board.
In his resignation letter, Adam stated that he made the decision as a result of not having enough time to devote to Necsa, given his other role as MD of the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory.
According to Business Day, Adam informed them via a Whatsapp message that he resigned because of the demanding nature of the job.
“Essentially the constant need for attention to detail, engaging with the board, staff and minister on a daily basis took the role way beyond non-executive chairmanship to the point where it was impacting on my job and my private life.”
Adam currently serves as a member of the Human Resources Development Council, the board of Square Kilometre Array, a member of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa, a fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa, as well as a member of the South African Institute of Physics.
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In a letter dated 2 July 2019, sent to Mantashe by Nehawu the union called for the minister to intervene at Necsa, which, it said, “is being allowed to drift toward a costly disaster”.
The union said that Radebe’s decision to fire the previous board pushed the organisation into a deep financial crisis noting that the previous board, despite cash flow challenges at times, had never sought to retrench workers, reported Business Day.
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Nehawu said, “the current Necsa board is running the organisation in secret, is not honest to employees and has done very little or nothing of substance to arrest the situation in seven months in charge of the organisation”.
In another letter sent the following day to the Nesca board by the corporation’s chief legal adviser, Vusi Malebana, he flagged corporate governance concerns.
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These include that the turnaround strategy, which involved retrenchments, was submitted to the department of energy without input from or engagement with the Necsa exco, which would be tasked with implementing it.
“In essence, the Necsa exco has been rendered useless, thereby giving credence to Nehawu’s assertions that the board is in fact managing the corporation,” Malebana said in the letter.
Necsa board member Pulane Kingston said there was nothing untoward about Adam’s resignation and that he was indeed under severe work and personal pressure.
The department, in a written response, said a key priority for the minister is to stabilise and strengthen all entities of the department, which includes the filling of board and executive management positions, to ensure “they are more efficient and support the execution of the department’s mandate”.
Sources: Business Day, and CFO