Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has warned Eskom employees who might be involved in “mischievous” and “nefarious” activities to rather focus on doing their job properly as they’re being paid well enough.
Briefing the portfolio committee on public enterprises on Wednesday, Gordhan said though he did not want to get into it, there was “some indication” that there might be “mischief” going on at Eskom which was contributing to the power crisis.
“There hasn’t been the kind of attention required in order to figure out what’s really going on. But there is a message that needs to go to the Eskom staff on one hand and also to those who still feel aggrieved because they had to leave the opportunities for all sorts of mischievous stuff at Eskom, and now want to retaliate in one form or another because egos wouldn’t allow them to accept that it’s time for them to move on and leave the job to somebody else to do,” said the minister.
“We will see a significant shift if there is a change in culture issues at Eskom.”
‘Load shedding must end sooner rather than later’
Gordhan further told the committee that while the country might still experience the interruptions in power supply over the next few years, the aim is to end load shedding “sooner rather than later”.
“The bottom line is that until we can put on a few thousand more megawatts on the system notwithstanding that there are problems now which are not just internal, but also externally inspired. The opportunity will be created to do the kind of maintenance required to be done provided the contractors are held to account and they deliver what they’re required to deliver with the right quality.”
He said there were companies that got paid millions of rand without delivering what they were paid to deliver. This, according to Gordhan, took place during the state capture years, and none of it was exposed or identified at the time. There must be a way to make these contractors pay back the money, he said.
“We require and integrated response to the crisis, one which ensures each role player, in terms of legislation that informs their work, does what in necessary and does it timeously to ensure the work needed to stabilise Eskom is done,” he said.
“Eskom is going through, and will go through for some years to come, managed instability and change for some time because we have to repair what must be repaired and because of the restructuring process. Our aim is that load shedding must end sooner rather than later. It will end when all of these things are done properly.”
And to the Eskom staff that might be involved in “mischievous” activities: “You work for us at Eskom and it’s important that you become honest workers because you get paid more than adequately and stop any nefarious activities that you might be involved in because that activity is causing huge damage to Eskom’s reputation and the country as a whole. There is some indication that there might be mischief.”
The journey to stabilise the power utility is long, but there is “hope”, said Gordhan, adding “we’re going to make it as short ad possible with the different interventions that we can hopefullly make sooner rather than later.”