Unions have slammed Eskom’s “shameless” efforts to hike electricity tariffs to pay performance bonuses, among other expenses.
Reports at the weekend revealed the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) had filed court papers opposing an application by the state-owned utility to force Nersa to allow tariff hikes to the tune of R69 billion.
The regulator told the court Eskom planned on spending R1.8 billion on performance bonuses between last year and 2022.
South African Federation of Trade Unions secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi said Eskom’s application was a slap in consumers’ faces, especially against the backdrop of rolling blackouts and gross incompetence at the power supplier.
“These people have no shame,” said Vavi. “It is unbelievable that people who have been so inefficient and incompetent can still be so greedy and insensitive.
“Basically, they want to take R69 billion out of the pockets of consumers. We are absolutely disgusted and angry that fellow South Africans can be so self-centred when the country is in the doldrums and in dire need of economic recovery.”
The rival Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) also disagreed with state coffers having to fund performance bonuses for managers. But Cosatu was not opposed to general workers being paid bonuses, saying they should not be punished for the incompetence of managers.
Matthew Parks, the parliamentary coordinator for Cosatu, said Eskom management had to be held accountable for losses at Eskom, not general workers.
“We have to first distinguish between management and workers because we want to treat them differently,” said Parks.
“Management should not be given a cent in bonuses because it was under their watch that Eskom has been run into the ground. We want to see them charged and fired for these things. It is quite alarming the huge management bonuses that Eskom is trying to sneak through.”
Democratic Alliance public enterprises spokesperson Ghaleb Cachalia said his party was calling on people to mobilise against Eskom, not just in parliament, but in the streets.
The party has been calling for the privatisation of the state utility, praising government’s plan to unbundle it into separate entities.
“We can do what we can as leaders, but the shareholder is government and government has to act,” said Cachalia.
“They can call for a forensic audit into Eskom’s finances, but they won’t do that because they are complicit in it. So we have to mobilise the people of SA to stand up and say enough is enough.
“If we do not, we will continue to kill ourselves economically. It is time that people woke up to that scenario.”