The National Union of Mineworkers has called for an independent audit on power utility Eskom to probe why it repeatedly fails to post profits. File picture: Reuters/Mike Hutchings

Johannesburg - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has called for an independent audit on power utility Eskom to probe why it repeatedly fails to post profits. 

The union's president Joseph Montisetse says the relationship between Eskom and big mining companies should be probed, claiming that the sale of energy to big mining companies is conducted illicitly.

“The problem with Eskom is corruption, which is prevalent there. We think that there must be an audit by independent auditors that can discover why Eskom cannot make a profit because we believe that the selling of energy to the bigger companies, especially in the mining industry, is not done in a fair way."

“Some companies are getting energy at low, low, rate and with the buying of coal from companies there seems to be no standard that is used by Eskom to buy coal,” said Montisetse.

He said that when it came to procurement at Eskom, there are many companies taking a huge chunk of money from the power utility through fraudulent procurement.

“The other issue is the Independent Power Producers (IPPs), there’s no reason for Eskom to hire IPPs when it is under a very severe financial strain. From April last year until now it has paid R20 billion to the IPPs.

“If Eskom is to cut ties with IPPs and Eskom itself adopts green energy that is run by Eskom directly we think that would be better. So these are some of the things that are making Eskom lose more money,” said Montisetse. 

He said that the privatisation of Eskom was not something that the union would endorse at any point and that the union would not move an inch to accommodate any form of privatisation of Eskom.

On the back of Eskom’s announcement of its interim results on Thursday, the NUM said that as long the government was focused on unbundling and not fixing Eskom’s challenges and weaknesses, losses will recorded every financial year. 

“The latest revelations of a slush fund of R75 million meant to enrich top Eskom managers is an indication that the so-called lifestyle audit was nothing else but a fluke. Eskom must undergo an independent comprehensive forensic audit to investigate the extent of corruption and odious debt.

“Today, the NUM applauds the board for destabilising base-load and stabilizing load shedding at the expense of the economy. We further congratulate them for implementing their strategy pillar of growing the debt and using expensive diesel for fueling OCGT,” said Paris Mashego, NUM Eskom Energy Sector Coordinator.

He said that the “clueless board” had no interest in saving the power utility and the country’s economy and that the only thing that the board was good at was separating the utility into smaller pieces for increasing the ability of each entity to secure loans.

“This board has failed to implement its strategy. Workers are relieved from their duties if they perform poorly. Similarly, the board must be fired.

“We restate our position clear and unequivocal that unbundling is not an end by itself, but a means of engaging private capital. We demand an honest and open engagement with the government and Eskom board,” Mashego said.

Political Bureau