The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) notes the resignation of Dr. Ben Ngubane, as chairperson of the Eskom board. As NUMSA we view his resignation as a positive development. However we believe the nightmare at Eskom is far from over.
We remain concerned about the bizarre decision which the board took to re-instate former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe, as well as the embarrassing spectacle where the public enterprises minister Lynne Brown at first tried to justify the indefensible by re-hiring Molefe, only for her to be forced to backtrack on the decision shortly thereafter.
The Molefe saga demonstrated very clearly that the board and the ministry are in a state of chaos. The decision demonstrated poor judgement from board members and the minister. NUMSA re-iterates its demand for the rest of the Eskom board to be removed and for Lynne Brown to be held to account.
Furthermore Ngubane’s resignation takes place against a decision by parliament to investigate the power utility, for allegations of mismanagement in issuing government tenders. Molefe originally resigned after the Public Protector, raised questions over coal deals between Eskom and a company controlled by the Gupta family, who are wealthy businessmen who are friends of President Zuma and employ his son, Duduzane.
Media houses have been having a field day reporting on thousands of leaked emails allegedly exposing how the Gupta family uses undue influence over politicians to win government contracts, including contracts from Eskom.
The controversies surrounding Eskom’s management and board are having a detrimental impact on workers on the ground. The daily operations of the organization are suffering as a result of poor leadership at the top.
The death of Thembisile Yende and the discovery of her body at a Springs substation shows that Eskom is failing operationally at a basic level, because it can’t even guarantee a safe working environment for workers. We maintain as NUMSA that, had Eskom listened to concerns raised by employees about unsafe working conditions, and heeded calls to beef up security Yende would still be alive today.
Whilst we note and acknowledge Ben Ngubane’s departure from the Eskom board he must be held to account for his role as chairperson of Eskom. His resignation should not exonerate from taking responsibility. We call for an independent investigation into tenders awarded during his tenure, and that where necessary, heads must roll.
NUMSA re-iterates its call for the board of Eskom to be completely transformed, it is a public utility. It needs to work in the interests of the public. That can only happen if the board is owned and controlled by the citizens of the country. We demand a board which will be made up of representatives from civil society, trade unions and business. That way, going forward, we can ensure good governance and transparency.
Issued by NUMSA