State power utility Eskom wants Treasury to approve a R24-million contract to purchase 9 217 office chairs, the Sunday Times reported.
The request for thousands of “operator and visitor chairs” follows an even bigger contract for office and soft chairs was signed in 2013 for R72.7 million.
According to the paper, Treasury conducted an inspection of Eskom’s offices, and found that only 500 chairs were required, and not the requested 9,200.
Eskom said its request for the R24 million expansion to the current office furniture contract was due to an “urgent need for replacement chairs while initiating a tender process”, however, a Treasury source told the Sunday Times: “The application just looked wrong and we suspected collusion between Eskom and the service provider.”
Debt and corruption scandals at Eskom make the utility the biggest risk to South Africa’s economy and the government needs to replace its management, Goldman Sachs Group said recently.
Eskom plans to raise almost R340 billion ($26 billion) in the next five years, while meeting R413 billion of interest and debt repayments, which amount to 8% of South Africa’s gross domestic product.
The utility is caught up in allegations of corruption related to contracts it signed with companies linked to the Gupta family, who are friends of president Jacob Zuma. It’s also without a permanent chief executive officer and has suspended its finance director. Zuma and the Guptas deny any wrongdoing.