Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan said Eskom management must take strong disciplinary action against employees at the power utility who “undermine” its work.
He was speaking during a question and answer session in the national assembly on Wednesday afternoon.
“The Eskom management must not hesitate to fire people. Employees within Eskom … must do their job and do their job honestly and not undermine – through their own initiative or at the behest of other people outside Eskom – the institution itself and therefore the country.
“Those that are dishonest, we must say clearly to them: Please go and find a job somewhere else. Eskom doesn’t need you and we don’t need the undermining (behaviour). The country must become intolerant, as must parliament, of anybody who wants to undermine a national asset like Eskom,” the minister said.
Gordhan was addressing the national assembly just hours after Eskom announced the implementation of stage-2 load shedding as a result of breakdowns at three power stations.
The power utility has been battling to keep the lights on for the past month with several breakdowns, trips, boiler leakages and other issues hampering its ability to generate enough electricity to sustain the country.
Gordhan told the national assembly that “malfeasance” and “mischief”, both internally and externally, could also be the cause of the regularity of the problems besetting the power utility.
“There are internal collaborators … and the law enforcement agencies need to come to the party and increase the risk of detection of malfeasance within Eskom so that there’s reorientation of behaviour according to the right values.
“We’ll have to … invite the trade union leadership that is representing the majority of people working at Eskom, to work with us in this particular regard so that they must be equally committed to ensuring that any form of mischief is removed from Eskom itself,” the minister said.
For Eskom to work properly, it is not just Eskom that has the responsibility, it is the entire ecosystem that supports Eskom
Gordhan explained that Eskom is working on various measures to stabilise the entity including the improvement of power stations, specialised skills being brought in, the driving down of partial energy load losses and ensuring that Eskom has the right quality of coal.
He added, however, that the process to return the power utility back to being a “well-functioning national entity” will need collaboration from all sectors.
“For Eskom to work properly, it is not just Eskom that has the responsibility, it is the entire ecosystem that supports Eskom at a policy level, at an administrative level and at a regulatory level.”