(File photo) Malusi Gigaba. Photo: Brandon van der Mescht

Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba would never support “wasteful and insensitive” behaviour and would meet officials from his department to have a R36 million Eskom party bonanza explained to him, his spokesman said on Sunday.

City Press reported that Eskom had spent R36m on parties for its staff and their families last year. Board and management team bonuses amounted to R54m last year.

The DA said it would write to the chairman of the portfolio committee on public enterprises, Peter Maluleka, to ask that Eskom chief executive Brian Dames be called before the committee to explain the spending.

“Eskom must be sensitive to the economic situation of consumers in South Africa,” said Gigaba’s spokesman, Mayihlome Tshwete.

“There is no way the minister can support things like wasteful behaviour,” said Tshwete.

The minister would discuss the matter with his officials, he said.

“He will be getting a further briefing from the department about the matter… there’s a need to evaluate what exactly went down,” said Tshwete.

DA public enterprises spokeswoman Natasha Michael said Eskom’s spending was “reckless”.

She said this was especially so in the light of the Treasury’s consideration of a proposal in which Eskom was calling for an almost 100 percent increase in electricity prices over the next five years.

Michael said reports of reckless spending by the parastatal “raise serious questions about its commitment to delivering energy solutions to grow the economy and improve the quality of life of people in South Africa”.

“Over the last three years, tariffs have increased by 24.8 percent, 25.2 percent and 16.09 percent, respectively,” said Michael.

“Surely, South African consumers cannot be expected to continue making sacrifices to save electricity and to contribute a growing portion of their income to energy costs while the state-owned company… spends lavishly on parties?”

Eskom’s Hillary Joffe told City Press the parties were necessary to boost morale and to thank staff for their hard work and commitment to “keeping the lights on”.

Eskom’s website urges “all South Africans to partner with us to keep the lights on and save 10 percent of their electricity usage”.

Political Bureau