A day before load shedding returned to South Africa, it was revealed by Minister of State Security Ayanda Dlodlo that 100 senior Eskom officials have refused to undergo security vetting by the State Security Agency (SSA).
There are “senior people in the government who don’t want to be vetted,” Dlodlo said during a meeting with parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa).
When asked what the recourse was when these officials didn’t cooperate, Dlodlo simply said there wasn’t any.
Committee chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa, however, assured the minister that “we will make sure Eskom [employees] comply”.
“As a state-owned enterprise, it must adhere to SSA processes.”
At the meeting, Dlodlo said many officials simply refused to cooperate with the screening process.
Only a small minority of top Eskom executives were willingly participating in the SSA vetting processes, according to the agency’s acting deputy director-general for counterintelligence, Sipho Blose.
“Chair, there are 121 senior management officials at Eskom who were meant to be vetted, but only 21 complied,” he said.
“It’s important that we vet these officials for Eskom to turn things around.”
He added that the outcome of the screening process was often overlooked and disregarded by other government entities in any case.
President Cyril Ramaphosa told the Financial Times Africa Summit in London on Monday afternoon that the SA government was on the verge of announcing new ideas on how to deal with struggling energy utility Eskom’s crippling debt, which currently sits at an estimated R440 billion and rising.
The president did not hide Eskom’s woes from the world.
“One of the greatest challenges to our economy is Eskom, which has huge debt, liquidity problems, and operational challenges. We have embarked on a process to strengthen governance, cut costs, improve revenue collection and increase energy availability,” Ramaphosa said, during his opening address at the summit.
He opened up at the Summit about the toll corruption has taken on Eskom’s bottom line.
“A lot of money was siphoned out of state coffers through corrupt means. Some of those [operations] were sophisticated. Some of those included blue-chip companies of great world reputation… that is the shocking part,” he said.
Before this, the president had addressed the issue of Eskom’s turnaround plan while answering questions at the National Council of Provinces (NCoP) last week.
The president said government would now “appoint a CEO, add to and augment the board, deal with the debt, deal with the operational aspects and the technical aspects, and deal with the challenge of non-payment”.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman.)