Eskom has been dogged by allegations of corruption and mismanagement, and this is showing in its expected financial results over the short and medium term. In addition, two of Eskom’s suppliers of coal – namely, two Gupta mines – have stopped operations due to an inability to pay staff.
As the embattled parastatal’s bills mount, questions surround whether or not there will be enough coal to keep power on this winter.
Eskom’s problems far worse than expected
The Rapport reported that Eskom expects a loss of R8.1-billion in the short term, which is set to balloon to R26,5-billion in the medium term.
These projected losses are the highest a state-owned enterprise has ever experienced in South Africa.
The National Treasury described Eskom’s financial problems as the single biggest risk to the South African economy and public finances.
This echoed the views of finance minister Malusi Gigaba, who said in January that Eskom’s financial woes could collapse the economy.
“There would be no currency, and no economy for the country if Eskom went belly-up,” said Gigaba.
To address the mismanagement at Eskom, Gigaba said in his recent budget speech that the government has strengthened Eskom’s board and management with “highly-capable, ethical, and credible leadership”.
Further allegations of mismanagement
In related news, the Sunday Times reported that former Eskom executive Matshela Koko’s wife has received millions of rand from the power utility.
“Documents in the possession of state capture investigators suggest the money flowed to companies where Koko’s wife, Mosima, is a director,” said the Sunday Times.
The report stated that the money was “channelled through Eskom service provider Impulse International, where Mosima’s 27-year-old daughter, Koketso Choma, was a non-executive director”.
In March last year, the Sunday Times reported that Koko’s stepdaughter received contracts for her company worth R1 billion from Eskom.
The report stated that Choma was appointed as a director at Impulse International in April 2016, after which it received eight contracts from the division of Eskom which Koko headed up.
Third Gupta-owned mine fails to pay workers’ salaries
An employee at Shiva Uranium mine‚ a Gupta-owned company based in Klerksdorp‚ North-West‚ says they have been left in the lurch after the company failed to pay them their salaries last week.
“We have not been paid February salaries. We were told that we would be paid on the 28th. This is very frustrating as most of us live far from work and are struggling to get money for transport‚” said the employee‚ who asked not to be named.
She said the company told them on Friday that the payments were delayed because it does not have a bank. “They also told us that they have an international bank and the funds have to be converted from dollars into rands and that the process takes long.”
Koornfontein coal mine is the second Gupta-affiliated mine not to pay salaries to its workers.
They were also told that the delay was due to Eskom not paying the company.
The country’s commercial banks have cut ties with Gupta-owned companies – citing reputational risk – while the only bank which services the companies‚ Bank of Baroda‚ is to exit South Africa at the end of March.
“We know there is trouble brewing there. They are just not telling us the truth.”
She said most workers have since Friday taken leave because they either do not have money to take public transport or put fuel in their cars.
“I do not know what I would have done had it not been for my partner‚ who has helped out with the kids’ school fees and other household expenses‚” the woman said.
She said the company has denied that it is under business rescue as the workers have heard from media reports.
“We have asked them if they are under distress and they said no. They don’t want us to take action against them and have threatened us with our jobs‚” she said.
Shiva Uranium is the third Gupta-owned company to not pay its employees. Optimum and Koornfontein coal mines have also failed to pay workers their salaries this month.
Workers at Optimum downed tools on Wednesday last week‚ saying they wanted to know whether the mine would be sold following reports that the mine’s owners‚ the Gupta family‚ could no longer be found.
Koornfontein supplies coal to Komati power station‚ Optimum supplies coal to Hendrina power station and Brakfontein supplies coal to Majuba power station.
By NOMAHLUBI JORDAAN for https://www.timeslive.co.za