Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said there appears to be “no limit to the greed” at Eskom, and it is the board’s priority to clean up the utility.
Gordhan spoke before Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) alongside Eskom management, including acting CEO Calib Cassim.
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.”
However, it has proven extremely difficult for Eskom to tackle corruption within its own 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.”
Acting Eskom CEO Calib Cassim said during the presentation of the utility’s results last month that aside from the utility’s performance, corruption and fraud give him “sleepless nights”.
In the presentation of the results, Eskom highlighted stamping out fraud and corruption at the utility as one of its key focus areas.
Cassim said that to turn the organisation around successfully, it must deal proactively and effectively with “fraud, corruption and the criminal elements that have infected the organisation”.
“There must be zero tolerance for fraud and corruption, and the legacy of state capture must be dealt with to rebuild trust and confidence in Eskom.”
The utility lost R81 million to fraud and corruption in the 2023 financial year.
It also lost R344 million to theft of conductors, cabling and network-related equipment, malicious damage to property and attempted theft.
Estimated non-technical issues cost the utility R5.61 billion.
However, Cassim said fraud and corruption have not just affected Eskom financially, as its reputation has been in a “downward spiral”, accelerated by environmental challenges, load-shedding, the lack of cost-reflective tariffs, high levels of debt and escalating arrear municipal debt, allegations of fraud and corruption and the effects of state capture.