Eskom probe reports denied

2008-05-12 00:00

Whistle-blowers working at Eskom who spoke to ANC leaders about “management problems” at the utility are being accused of describing the problems “out of context”.

“The problem for me is that the whistle-blowers went to outsiders,” Fani Zulu, now Eskom spokesman again, said yesterday afternoon. “If Eskom’s internal communication had been better, they would not have had to go outside, because they would have found the answers within the organisation.”

The Sunday Times reported yesterday that the ANC compiled a report on Eskom, but the report has not yet been formally tabled at a party meeting.

Cobus Coetzee reports that, however, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe yesterday denied that the ANC carried out such an investigation.

Zulu said that the first time he heard about such a report was when the newspaper approached him for comment.

According to the Sunday Times, the ANC is now considering legal advice after having obtained certain information through Eskom whistle-blowers. It is believed that one of the findings of the ANC report is that electricity obtained from the Cohora Basa hydro-electric scheme in Mozambique was diverted to Zimbabwe.

Zulu says this statement should be seen in context. He says some of the electricity was diverted through Zimbabwe and Botswana to South Africa because a problem with the network prevented it from being sent directly to South Africa.

“The question that has to be asked is where this electricity was used. It wasn’t used in Zimbabwe, but in South Africa.”

According to the report, Eskom has apparently developed an infrastructure maintenance system that encourages its management to earn bonuses by spending less money on the ageing infrastructure.

The report also apparently found that savings made on the maintenance budget were invested in the private sector. This pushed up Eskom’s profits, as a result of which management could claim larger bonuses.

In response to these accusations, Zulu said the whistle-blowers should provide more details.

The report apparently also says that the contractors that had to carry out maintenance work for Eskom could not keep up and that important repairs had not been done.

“The reason not all the maintenance could be carried out was that the system was under pressure as a result of high demand and too little electricity supply,” Zulu said.

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