Our zero this week is embattled power utility Eskom. Media reports last week claim that over the past five years, Eskom has spent a billion rand of taxpayers’ money on labour consultants.
Furthermore, say the newspaper reports, court documents reveal that the consultancy, Khum-BIE, made Eskom pay double for the services of three contractors, who have now taken the power supplier to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration after losing their cushy jobs in October last year. The court documents relate to a case brought by Khum-BIE before the South Gauteng High Court for money owed to it by Eskom.
“The services of one contractor, Johan Jacobs, cost Eskom R1 096 per hour in August last year, according to the invoices. But Jacobs’ payslip from Khum-BIE shows he was only paid R535 per hour. He said even that rate was high for the industry,” the papers reported.
Elsewhere in the court documents, it’s shown that Khum-BIE raked in R150-million for its services during August and September 2013.
But there is potentially more bad news – Khum-BIE was just one of five consultancies that supplied hundreds of contractors to Eskom. The other four contracts may carry the same kind of costs, but those details have not yet been disclosed.
Last year, according to the newspaper reports, Eskom was forced to dismiss hundreds of contractors – which were mainly quality-control engineers – because it could no longer afford the high costs of the consultants it had recruited. This has had implications for the continued operation of crucial infrastructure. One of the dismissed engineers told Afrikaans newspaper Rapport last week that his company had warned Eskom over a year ago about the dangerous condition of the coal silo that recently collapsed at Majuba power station, putting unneeded strain on the national grid. Eskom, said the engineer, did not take preventive action at the time.
The afore-mentioned Jacobs is said to have told the newspaper that Eskom could have saved the taxpayer billions of rands if it had appointed its own staff.