Johannesburg - As Eskom teeters on the brink of darkness, the power utility will fork out a staggering R1.4bn on two five-year catering contracts that provide free meals to its workforce at only two power stations.
According to the Sunday Times, the contracts feed workers at Medupi in Limpopo and Kusile in Mpumalanga and are among the biggest catering contracts in the country.
The power stations are currently being built and are way behind schedule and way over budget.
The Kusile contract, worth R639m was awarded late last year to RoyalMnandi Duduza, which is part of the Bidvest group, of which ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe’s wife, Nolwandle Mantashe is a director.
Eskom has come under fire recently for allowing South Africa to teeter on the edge of a power crisis.
Energy experts say that if Medupi and Kusile power stations had become fully operational when they were supposed to, South Africa would not be on the brink of this crisis.
Energy expert Chris Yelland said recently if these two power stations, with 4800MW each, were operating now, Eskom would have had an extra 9600MW of generating capacity on the grid.
“The cause of the tight Eskom system is fundamentally the lateness of Medupi and Kusile power stations coming on stream,” said Yelland, the MD of EE Publishers.
“The reality is, they are four years late.”
By October 2013, Eskom should have had the entire Medupi power station generating into the grid, but now the first unit will only go live in the middle of 2015. “Things are running seriously late,” he said.
“Eskom has been forced to reduce its normal maintenance regime because it simply does not have the spare capacity sufficient to allow it to do proper maintenance,” said Yelland.
“This comes at a time when the system is already constrained and, as a result, Medupi and Kusile being late is the final straw that breaks the camel’s back and pushes the country into load shedding.”