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Fri Oct 24 14:42:36 SAST 2014

Eskom parties while South Africans reel from price hikes

The Editor, The Times Newspaper | 05 March, 2012 00:41

The Times Editorial: Shell-shocked consumers, still reeling from the news that the petrol price is going up by 28c a litre on Wednesday, and that e-tolls are here to stay, will also have to contend this year with higher municipal rates charges and yet another huge electricity tariff hike.

The national mood would hardly have improved yesterday after reports surfaced that Eskom forked out millions of rands on a fun day for staff, spouses and their children in Cape Town.

According to the Sunday Times, the parastatal, which was pleading poverty not so long ago, paid an events company R3-million to organise the event.

About 1000 Eskom staff and their families were treated to a day of fun, live performances by top musicians, jumping castles, carousels, face painting and boerewors rolls.

Some guests were reportedly transported hundreds of kilometres to the Cape Town event and had to be put up, courtesy of the parastatal, in the city.

Five other family fun days were held - at undisclosed cost - in November and December.

Eskom justified the expenditure saying the events helped motivate employees, build morale, encourage teamwork and, ultimately, raise productivity.

This is all well and good, but the timing of these displays of largesse is questionable. Eskom, which raised eyebrows last year when it disclosed that its executive committee members were paid 109% more than the previous year, is asking consumers to pay 25.9% more for their electricity on April 1 - the third yearly increase of this magnitude.

Eskom is also still not in a position to guarantee the country's power supply and is continually asking consumers to tighten their belts and use less electricity.

Under these conditions, it is grossly insensitive - and just plain wrong - for the parastatal's bosses to throw money around.

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