Cape Town – An exodus of black senior managers and executives is unfolding at Eskom as 63 senior employees have left the power utility after mass resignations and, to a lesser extent, dismissals and deaths, since 2018.
A parliamentary response by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan indicates that the 63 black managers and executives – African, coloured and Indian people – left after resigning or taking separation packages.
IFP MP Elphas Buthelezi had asked Gordhan how many senior managers and executives had been fired or suspended and replaced by white or Indian managers at Eskom and Transnet since 2018.
“As at October 2022, Eskom can report that a combined total of 63 black senior managers at senior manager (level) and exco levels exited Eskom either through natural attrition or resignation and dismissal,” Gordhan said.
Gordhan said this reported number excluded employees who exited through voluntary separation – as a part of Eskom’s strategy to reduce a bloated staff complement – which led to redundant positions.
“Of these 63 positions, 26 are occupied by Africans while 18 were rationalised,” Gordhan said.
“The remaining positions are occupied by employees catagorised as either white, coloured or Indian.”
Gordhan’s statistics show that three white managers replaced 64 African managers who left due after “terminations”. The (63 and 64) discrepancy is not explained in the reply.
The revelations came after the most recent, high-profile resignation of Eskom Generation Head Rhulani Mathebula, who cited a toxic environment at the hard-pressed power utility.
Mathebula cited ill-health and a stressful work environment. In May, Eskom announced the resignation of Phillip Dukashe, who was also group executive for generation.
At a recent public enterprises committee meeting, ANC MP Judith Tshabalala voiced her concern about a perceived reversal of ANC transformation goals at DPE entities. She said the DPE seemed detached from the ANC’s transformation agenda.
“(Transformation) is not happening across the board,” she said.
Speaking at a National Energy Regulator of South Africa webinar on Thursday, Mathebula spoke of a “dented” morale, fatigue, increased errors, a skills shortage crisis and bad operating practices at Eskom.
He said people had to work 24/7 at Eskom.
“Those who have seen the good days at Eskom, their morale is really dented,” Mathebula said.
“We’ve seen engineers leaving their roles, finding themselves having to take on operating roles due to the demand of the current fleet. As a qualified BSc holder, it is not what you would expect that in the middle of the night, on weekends, you would have your boots on.”