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Black firm says Eskom ’forced’ it to share multimillion rand tender with white company

Electricity pylons are seen near the cooling towers of a power station owned by state power utility Eskom. File Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Electricity pylons are seen near the cooling towers of a power station owned by state power utility Eskom. File Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Published Sep 9, 2020


A black-owned company that was “forced” by Eskom to share lucrative work with a white firm has highlighted the alleged anti-transformation approach of the power utility.

Sources have claimed that Scrapcore – a white-owned firm – was allegedly forced in as a subcontractor of MK Metals – a wholly black-owned firm – for scrap-metal work estimated at an annual R17 million at Eskom’s Tutuka power station in Mpumalanga.

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The Star has seen Scrapcore invoices where the company made almost R800 000 in March last year after collecting roughly 293 tons of scrap from Tutuka, allegedly without an Eskom contract and without the knowledge of the supposed principal agreement holders, MK Metals. The contract was awarded during the time that Jabu Mabuza doubled-up as chief executive and chairperson of Eskom.

Internal Tutuka documents also show that MK Metals’ contract was terminated in April last year after the company’s tax clearance certificate expired, which disqualified it from doing work at the plant, as well as at Duvha power station in Mpumalanga.

However, despite the principal contract holders’ termination, Scrapcore continued doing “subcontract” work supposedly under MK Metals at Tutuka, with allegations it did so until at least December last year.

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Then Eskom acting CEO Jabu Mabuza speaking as the Eskom group announced its annual results for at 2019 Megawatt Park in Sunninghill,. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

These revelations come in the wake of Friday’s statement by the state-owned entity (SOE) that it had suspended the managers of Mpumalanga-based Tutuka and Kendal power stations following another round of Eskom-sanctioned crippling blackouts across the country.

Eskom said on Friday that although the blackouts were caused by an increasingly ageing fleet, it was “also true that the situation is exacerbated by serious issues of apathetic behaviour by some management staff”.

Insiders claimed that there was a general lack of financial control at Tutuka, which allegedly led to the “forced” subcontracting work.

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“Only a forensic audit of the work done by both MK Metals and Scrapcore will reveal how this arrangement came about, but there’s no will from Tutuka management to do the probe. No one at Tutuka wants the truth revealed,” said a source, who asked to remain anonymous.

On Tuesday, Scrapcore said: “We are not certain what your article is about and would like to receive more detail to enable us to consider whether it requires a more detailed response.

“What we can state in the interim is that MK Metals approached Scrapcore to do work at Tutuka as MK Metals were not able to meet their obligations, and any allegations that Scrapcore ‘forced’ MK Metals or that Scrapcore worked ‘illegally’ are unfounded and false. All our rights are fully reserved.”

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MK Metals managing director Antony Mtshali rejected claims that his firm had approached Scrapcore, adding he had documentary evidence that he was not at liberty to share, citing legal implications. Mtshali declined to comment further.

Responding to how Scrapcore became subcontractors, and how it continued doing work at Tutuka despite the principal MK Metals’ contract termination, Eskom said: “Eskom did not force MK Metals into any subcontracting agreement. Eskom does not have a contract with Scrapcore. They were not chosen by Eskom to work as a subcontractor, but by MK Metals.”

Last month, the EFF accused Eskom in a statement of “villainous forms” of State Capture “by a tiny group of white racists” following the appointment of Stephen Meijers as chief operations officer at the SOE’s subsidiary, Roteks Industries.

Eskom spokesperson Sikhonathi Mantshantsha was quoted in The Citizen as rubbishing the EFF’s claims as “disinformation”.

The Star

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