Eskom group chief executive Phakamani Hadebe has vowed to root out corruption at the power utility. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG – Eskom group chief executive Phakamani Hadebe has vowed to root out corruption at the power utility, vowing that the executive would leave no stone unturned in its efforts to clean up the state-owned enterprise.

He admitted that corruption had wider tentacles within the organisation, where those in leadership positions had influenced subordinates to take certain decisions.

However, he said those accused of wrongdoing would be held to account no matter their seniority.

Hadebe, who was appointed to the influential position earlier this year after President Cyril Ramaphosa rose to power, said 1049 investigations had been launched, with 822 finalised.

He said 79 people had exited the company, while 250 had been suspended without pay.

“That’s an achievement for us,” he said, noting, however, that this was not the end of the road. “Do we have corruption in the exco? Probably yes,” said Hadebe, during a media briefing in Joburg on Friday.

In a statement issued moments before the briefing, Eskom said it had suspended, with immediate effect, group executive for capital division Abram Masango, pending an investigation into what it termed various allegations of impropriety relating to the Kusile Power Station build project.

Eskom said given the serious nature of the allegations against Masango and the seniority of his position, the management took a decision to place him on suspension pending the outcome of the investigation.

“The board and management of Eskom is committed to investigating all allegations of impropriety involving Eskom and to hold those involved accountable as part of restoring good governance in our organisation,” the statement read.

Hadebe said it was clear that people were making use of the whistle-blowing service within the company to blow the lid off corruption.

He said they were taking back control of systems to make it difficult for corruption to fester.

Eskom was also bent on holding those in management positions accountable.

“Accountability is important. If there is corruption at a power station the manager has to account,” Hadebe said.

Meanwhile, Willy Majola, acting group executive for transmission, said there was a high risk of rotational load shedding during the festive season. He stressed, however, that that would be the last resort.

Eskom said as of November 15, it had 25.6 days of coal stockpiles.

Hadebe said the power utility was working to minimise the risk of load shedding or reduce its degree if it was unavoidable.

He said measures were in place to reduce the impact of the rain season and at least 3 days of strategic stockpiles would be used during sustained rainfall at critical power stations.

“Procedures are in place for how and when to use strategic stockpiles,” he said, adding that Eskom had ensured adequate fuel oil stocks for combustion support when coal was wet.

He further stated that funding had been made available and diesel supply assured for extended Open Cycle Gas Turbine usage if required for system support.

Hadebe said the 25.6 days of coal stockpiles were projected to grow to 28.2 days by March 31, from existing and new signed contracts.

It was projected that stations would reach the expected level between September 2019 and February 2020.