Not enough people are imprisoned for corruption at Eskom, with law enforcement failing to tackle criminal activity at the utility adequately.
This is feedback from Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, who recently spoke before Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) alongside Eskom management, including acting CEO Calib Cassim.
Gordhan said it has proven extremely difficult for Eskom to tackle corruption within its operations.
“Rooting out the culture of corruption within Eskom and amongst the businesses that do work with Eskom is still a challenge,” the Minister said.
“There seems to be no limit to the greed that permeates that whole ecosystem.”
“Whether one likes it or not, there are not enough people in orange uniforms at this particular point in time.”
The Minister and Eskom’s management were expected to give an update on implementing Scopa’s recommendations to the utility to improve governance and performance.
When asked if anything had changed since he had last been before Scopa, Gordhan said that sweeping changes have occurred at Eskom.
Eskom’s new board has come up to speed, and a “fair amount of cleaning up is going on following the findings of the Zondo Commission”, Gordhan said.
“There have been a few lapses on the forensic side, but the board is beginning to attend to those.”
Gordhan said the key was to combat the culture of corruption within Eskom’s ecosystem, “It seems that greed is a powerful motive force in terms of undermining institutions such as Eskom.”
The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) previously said it was expanding its investigations into corruption at Eskom.
SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said their investigations at Eskom are huge and constantly increasing as more is uncovered.
“When we started, we looked at some of the small investigations that related to employees,” Kganyago said.
“Later on, it expanded to include investigations of the coal contracts, and that then extended to include investigations of sabotage.”
The SIU has since expanded its investigations into the supply of inferior coal to Eskom, causing damage to some of the utility’s equipment to secure repair contracts.
Conveyor belts at several coal power stations were also damaged to secure tenders to transport coal via trucks from different mines.
The construction of Eskom’s power stations, particularly Medupi and Kusile, is also under investigation.
Several private companies have been prosecuted, with Swiss-German engineering firm ABB the most notable. ABB paid R1.6 billion back to Eskom following successful prosecution.
The SIU has turned away from investigating individuals to focus on processes and syndicates involved in supplying coal and diesel to Eskom.
“We do not investigate individuals; we look at processes, and if those processes lead us to you, then you will be investigated”, Kganyago said.
For example, when investigating irregular coal deliveries to power stations, it would be easy for law enforcement to arrest the truck driver. However, this does not root out the corrupt employees at the utility who enable corruption.
This article was first published by Daily Investor and is reproduced with permission.