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Brown slates Eskom's ad, sponsorship spend

Mar 08 2017 17:14
Matthew le Cordeur

Cape Town – Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown doesn’t believe Eskom should spend any money on sponsorships or advertising, because everyone knows the brand of the power utility.

Brown was responding to a question in Parliament on Wednesday about why Eskom spent millions advertising on the Gupta-owned New Age Breakfast on SABC, or why Eskom and Transnet donated R440 000 and R400 000 respectively to the Progressive Professionals Forum (PPF) led by Mzwanele (Jimmy) Manyi.

Brown said while Eskom sponsors many initiatives like schools and sport clubs, it was its sponsorship of the entities linked to the controversial Gupta family and Manyi that made opposition MPs angry.

Just last week, Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier criticised Eskom. “Sponsoring Jimmy Manyi and the Progressive Professionals Forum was simply wrong,” he said, following Brown’s revelation of this sponsorship deal.

“The fact is that in the end Jimmy Manyi and his Progressive Professionals Forum should not have received one cent from Eskom or Transnet.”

Brown took this one step further, saying she did not think anyone should get a cent from Eskom in advertising or sponsorships.

“People know Eskom,” she said. “I even get called the Minister of Eskom because of load shedding.”

In fact, Brown doesn’t think any state-owned entities should spend money on advertisements.

“I have encouraged them to stop advertising,” she said. “They don’t need to advertise themselves.”

However, she is wary of banning this outright as she knows the print industry is “under enormous strain”.

“I don’t want to call a ban on all advertisement, but they need to be more circumspect about advertising.”

This would echo Maynier’s concern that these sponsorship or advertising deals “could not possibly have advanced Eskom’s mission (Powering the world) or Transnet’s mission (Delivering freight reliably)”.

He said sponsorships “involved the use of public funds from state-owned enterprises, who are so cash-strapped that they, in the case of Eskom, are squeezing consumers with electricity tariff hikes”.

Maynier said by sponsoring the PPF, Eskom was supporting “an organisation which is deeply involved in politics and which campaigns against the Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan and National Treasury, who, ironically, not only guarantees Eskom’s R350bn debt, but also masterminded Eskom’s R83bn bailout”.

To follow up, Maynier is submitting Promotion of Access to Information Act requests for copies of the sponsorship policies employed by Eskom and Transnet.

He is also requesting that auditor general Kimi Makwetu investigate the sponsorships received from Eskom and Transnet.

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