South Africa

Eskom under siege

Eskom chairman Mpho Makwana says Eskom’s staff morale is very low, with employees struggling to make friends and their children getting bullied at school.

Makwana made these comments during an interview with Newzroom Africa’s Xoli Mngambi, focussing on problems at the power utility.

Irvin Jim, the general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), said Eskom workers are permanently under siege.

“They are presented as thieves by the government because of shenanigans that take place around power stations where they work,” Jim said.

“We are dealing with a workforce with very low morale”, which Jim said impacts the ability of the government to fix Eskom and resolve load-shedding.

Makwana agreed with Jim, saying it can be expected that there is low staff morale among Eskom employees.

“The average Eskom employee, unionised or not, is under siege. Irvin Jim is correct,” he said.

“Their children get bullied at school. Their wives and husbands struggle to mingle in communities because they are seen as letting the country down with load-shedding.”

The Eskom chairman urged union leaders to reach out to the acting Eskom CEO and seek a partnership to address the problems.

“Rather than go on national TV and bemoan the situation, let’s sit around the same table as partners,” Makwana said.

“As partners, we can discuss how we turn this place around. Let’s go back to 2001, when Eskom was power utility of the year, and say how we can revive that.”

“We must find out how we can rekindle Eskom as a great place to work and which deliver electricity with pride to the nation.”

Discussions with staff after Andre de Ruyter’s departure

Mpho Makwana
Eskom chairman Mpho Makwana

Former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter left the power utility “with immediate effect” following his explosive interview on ENCA.

Eskom said the decision followed the convening of a special Board meeting on 22 February 2023.

“The Eskom Board and Group Chief Executive (GCE) Andrè de Ruyter had reached a mutual agreement to curtail his notice period to 28 February 2023,” Eskom said.

Revelations in the interview and the CEO’s sudden departure added further fuel to the Eskom fire, which Makwana said they are addressing.

“We’ve had three virtual conversations with our staff after De Ruyter’s departure. I’ve also had a leadership talk,” he said.

The leadership talked centred around what is right at Eskom. “To have the energy to fix what is wrong at an organisation, you also have to celebrate what is working,” Makwana said.

The focus is to inspire the top leadership at Eskom, which the board hopes will filter down to other employees.

He highlighted that the responsibility of staff engagement lies with the chief executive and that the board always comes as guests of Eskom executives.


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