Electricity chief works from home

2015-05-06 06:00

THE municipality says it is not concerned that the electricity and energy director has not been seen in his office for two months, even though there are huge national and local electricity problems that affect its more than 297 000 electricity customers in Nelson Mandela Bay.

The DA wrote an urgent letter to council speaker Maria Hermans and municipal manager Mpilo Mbambisa on April 27, asking for an investigation into the absenteeism of electricity boss Silby Matthew.

Municipal spokesperson, Mthubanzi Mniki, said although Matthew had not been seen at his office, he was on duty. Mniki said this was not a concern for the municipality as it had a good team, “working very hard and dedicated to managing load shedding under the management of Matthew”.

According to the municipality’s website, Matthews’s directorate supplies electricity to more than 297 000 customers and has a turnover of about R1.8-billion.

Eastern Cape DA leader Athol Trollip said it was “unconscionable and unacceptable that the city’s head of electrical services is bunking his duties during the time of an electricity crisis.

“The city must investigate how Matthew has remained away from his post for two months, while drawing a salary for this period,” said Trollip.

According to the DA, Matthew earns R1,6-million a year, with R266 666 earned while working in his private residence.

“I am not happy that he is not at the office. He can’t be at his home. He is a manager and he has to be seen by his subordinates, and his subordinates have to engage with him, not just with emails. If he is not at his office working with the people under him, then why is he employed?” said Trollip.

One of the concerns is the amount of electricity revenue lost. According to The Herald the Metro lost R120 million in electricity in six months in the 2014/2015 financial year, despite the Metro’s plans to outsource service providers Amat to combat electricity theft and illegal connections.

In an interview with Express in November 2014, Amat CEO, Mthu Ntlangani, said since their launch in July 2014, they had not been able to implement their strategy on cable theft reduction due to a “bottle neck” in the municipality.

Ntlangani, said they had however, since the launch of the project made inroads in combating and reducing electricity theft, but not cable theft.

Trollip said he had caught wind of Matthews’s absenteeism when workers complained to his office that they had no leadership.

“The unfortunate thing is that this municipality takes months to take action, and circumstances by then will be dire. Workers are complaining and if they have complained to me, that means Mbambisa should be aware of this,” he said.

According to Mniki, Matthews’s responsibilities include giving strategic direction and management of the overall directorate to make sure it meets its R1.8-billion mandate.

Trollip said “a culture of dereliction of duty, as displayed by Matthew, is exactly what is wrong with Nelson Mandela Bay’s current administration. As Matthew’s truancy is common cause, the speaker and municipal manager must immediately suspend him, investigate this truancy, and recoup the money he has earned while absent from duty.”

Mniki did not provide reasons why Matthews was working at home.

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