Eskom blows millions on staff parties

04 March 2012 - 02:15 By SHANAAZ EGGINGTON
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ESKOM is spending millions of rands on jumping castles, carousels, face painting, buskers and boerewors rolls for its employees - as consumers face a 25.9% electricity tariff hike.

Yesterday the parastatal held a family fun day for staff, spouses and their children in Cape Town - and paid an events management company R3-million to organise it.

This follows five other family fun days organised in November and December.

An Eskom spokesman confirmed that R3-million was paid to the events company for the Cape Town fun day, but was unable to say how much the other five fun days cost.

On April 1, consumers will be hit with a 25.9% hike in electricity tariffs.

Last month, President Jacob Zuma urged the power utility to soften the blow of price hikes on consumers and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan called on all state entities to cut unnecessary spending.

South Africans have been asked to cut electricity consumption by 10% to avoid power blackouts.

P re-paid customers fumed last month after the electricity online vending system crashed.

Eskom spokeswoman Hilary Joffe said that about 1 000 employees had attended yesterday's R3-million event.

"Each employee is allowed to bring up to three family members so, in total, the Western Cape region [ was] expecting about 4000 people," she said.

Blackmagic Communications, a Johannesburg-based company, was awarded the contract for the event.

Director Paul Phume declined to reveal what the firm was paid.

Said Joffe: "This is the first family fun day the Western Cape region has hosted. Eskom's generation division held five family fun days for its employees and their families in November/December last year which were attended by more than 11000 people."

These were held in Witbank, Middelburg, Lephalale and Heidelberg.

"Eskom sees these events as an investment in its most valuable resource - its people.

"The fun days aim to motivate employees, build morale and encourage team work so as to enhance performance. They are also an opportunity to thank employees for their hard work," she said.

Guests were transported hundreds of kilometres to the Cape Town event, with some staff from Oudtshoorn and George accommodated in the city - at Eskom's cost.

Yesterday's festivities on sports fields at the University of the Western Cape included giant jumping castles, sports, prizes and entertainment on a big stage with performances by singers Loyiso Bala and Emo Adams.

Guards with patrol dogs barred the media from entering the area.

Eskom's financial results, released in 2011, revealed that executive committee members were paid 109% more than in the previous financial year while its net profit grew to R12.8-billion in the six months to the end of September 2011.

The Special Investigating Unit is conducting a wide-ranging probe into claims of corruption, fraud and maladministration at Eskom.

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