Eskom’s R36m ‘family fun’ splurge

2012-07-08 15:00

Johannesburg - Eskom blew R36m on parties for its staff and their families last year – enough money to power more than a million poor households with a basic free electricity subsidy for a month.

City Press has obtained copies of the contracts for the spree of bashes last year after filing a promotion of access to information application (PAIA).

The disclosure comes on the back of a 16% tariff hike and flies in the face of President Jacob Zuma’s call on the parastatal to cushion the price blow for consumers.

Earlier this year, critics reacted with shock when a newspaper revealed that Eskom had spent R3m for a family fun day in Cape Town.

But that was only the tip of the party budget.

From October last year, the parastatal spent a staggering R36 504 036.44 on seven “family fun days”.

A key contract for the bulk of the spending, obtained through a PAIA, had the name of the contractor removed because the company would not agree to disclose their identity.

However, City Press has established that Blackmagic Communications was awarded the lucrative main deal, worth more than R35m.

Speaking through its lawyers, the company said: “Blackmagic has nothing further to say than what is contained in the documents provided to you by Eskom.”

They complained they had not been given enough time to respond to questions.

The first contract, worth more than R4m, was awarded for planning and organising five “generation family days”, catering for almost 12 000 people in Gauteng.

The contract also involved organising two fun days for staff in eMalahleni (Witbank), worth more than R10m, and others in Lephalale, valued at nearly R5m.

The Cape Town fun day in March – which cost R3.4m and which caused a sensation when it was revealed earlier this year – was in fact the second for Eskom in the region over the last year.

The first family fun day was held last November and was worth close to R5m.

Another fun day held in Durban cost a further R1m and was contracted separately.

On top of the millions spent on the contracts, nearly R500 000 more was spent by Eskom to hire buses and taxis for employees, to hire the grounds of the University of Western Cape, a five-day stay at the Protea Hotel in Cape Town, face painting and bingo in Durban, and buying 180 burgers and drinks at a roadside cafe outside Cape Town.

The eMalahleni-region fun day included performances by artists including Teargas, Liquid Deep and Cash Time.

Lemias Mashile, deputy president of the South African Civic Organisation, said these millions spent on parties was an insult to the poor.

“There is no logical linkage of misusing so much and (then for Eskom to) cry for increased electricity tariffs,” he added.

Paul Crankshaw, the deputy chairperson of the National Consumer Forum, said: “This sounds to us like a strange way of motivating staff and encouraging teamwork.

"Sound and professional management on every level – to build capacity and accountability – is what motivates and raises morale in the long-term, not family picnics.”

Hilary Joffe, Eskom’s spokesperson, said fun days were to thank employees for hard work and a commitment to “keeping the lights on”.

She added that “surveys conducted by HR had shown an upward trend in morale and pride in belonging to the division”.

- City Press

  • robert.keene.94 - 2012-07-08 23:49

    "Shocking" - motivation for State operations be damned! - More like "fun" for the boys at tax payers and consumers expense!

  • ernst.snyman - 2012-07-09 06:41

    Its like a R1000 bonus for everybody to thank them for their hard work - I think we are doing great with no blackouts etc!!! The boss needs to thank his people - I wish the media could rather see and put the positive side of this in the papers for a change!!!!

      Blixum - 2012-07-09 08:22

      Start your own newspaper and report on positive things if you don't like what they are currently reporting on.

      konstabel.koekemoer - 2012-07-09 09:14

      So Eskom staff is doing us a favour by not having blackouts??? I agree with motivating staff but spending millions while pleading poverty and hiking rates is just wrong.

      piet.strydom - 2012-07-09 14:55

      I agree Ernst. They don't give all the numbers of the peopla, but R4 mill for 12 000 people, translates to R333 per person. Not all that much money, in the end. We all complain about how we are mistreated by the big corporates, these guys are attempting to put it right a little. What would be good, is if we could get complete information - E.g. how many parties did each empoyee get? How many family members did each employee bring. Were they family members? Etc.

      murray.campbell.980 - 2012-08-22 14:43

      You are an idiot who deserves to be hit with a 20% electricity increase this year. I have no problem with people saying thank you to their staff, but R36 bar is a lot of thank you. What happened to people saying thank you by giving electricity to poor people who are freezing this winter.. enjoy your cake at your party Eskom, enjoy. PS: my electricity was off in Northern Suburbs the whole of yesterday, and my resturant in honeycrest in JHB was out of electricity for a day last week.. so what crap are you talking about with no blackouts.. they are still happening, wake up fool.

  • toby.vermaak - 2012-07-09 07:06

    i am sure that money could have been better spent like on the poor people,its time we stood up and fought these robbers

  • freddy.vanwijk - 2012-07-09 09:06

    A clear case of abuse of taxpayer & consumer money. Scandalous!! The money could have been put to better use. "Motivation for state operations"? LOL. I could have invented a better lie than that!

  • konstabel.koekemoer - 2012-07-09 09:09

    I smell a rat, an investigation is needed to see how Eskom top management is connected to Blackmagic.

      andre.pretorius.1297 - 2012-07-09 17:12


  • george.laporta.1 - 2012-07-09 15:14

    WHAT'S SPECIAL ABOUT WORKING FOR ESKOM? HARD WORK MY FOOT and what a poor excuse! DO THESE PEOPLE GET A FAT BONUS AS WELL AT YEAR END? You bet they do.What other perks do they get for working so hard for Eskom? Does any body know or it it a secret. What a disgrace when the public is expected to pay exorbitant tarrifs many are just not poor enough to get them for free.

  • vasee.pillay - 2012-07-09 21:24

    I said it before.Escom is the govtt's cash cow. Escom milks and fleeces the public with huge increases and dishes it out to govt and parties when this money could be used properly by helping the poor. The public protector needs to investigate Escom and bring to book all those that are involved in stealing and involved in corruption. Better still all South Africas people i.e. consumers do not pay their bills for 3 months but keep the equalivent in a bank to show Escom that we can bring it down to its needs. iF THEY WANT TO PENALISE US THEN THE WHOLE COUNTRY will be in darkness from this corruption pepertrated by the parastatal.

  • gavin.hillyard - 2012-07-10 16:26

    Doesn,t matter how many people or what was done. R36m is an obscene amount of money and no amount of spinning will change that. Why can't these employees buy their own burgers. Just shows the wrong attitude of mind. This type of waste simply has to be stopped if we are to arrest the current downward spiral happening in most areas of government and quasi-government organizations - or should I say dis-organizations?

  • murray.campbell.980 - 2012-08-22 14:40

    I am willing to bet my left nut that the companies who supply these lavish parties are BEE companies who charge 50% more than the average joe out there trying to survive in the corporate events field. With so many people out of work and so many people without electricity Eskom should be ashamed. The directors should be fired and the staff should take salary deductions to pay back the money spent on these parties so that it can be redistributed to the poor. Need we be reminded that this is a state owned enterprise. Nice one ANC.. keep up the brilliant work as we now have to fork out more money for Eskoms expansion while thay cannot allocate money effectively.

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