By John Fraser
There has been a severe backlash following reports that troubled parasital Eskom wants to pay R1.8bn in annual bonuses to staff.
This demand has since been tweaked by Eskom, with a suggestion that the cash is needed not for bonuses, but to fund thirteen cheques. So different it takes one’s breath away. Or not.
For Eskom, the cash is merely part of “employees’ normal remuneration package.”
The anger at this is understandable. Unreliable power supply, massive fraud, escalating costs and tariff increases have all stoked the anti-Eskom sentiment.
However, should the staff be punished by having their thirteenth cheques cancelled?
It may make many disgruntled customers feel more gruntled, but is that wise or fair?
We need to ask why we need staff at Eskom.
The system is under-maintained, prone to breakdowns, and the consequences of decades of mismanagement and under-investment are there for all to see.
However, there are very few people who can keep things going, who can fix, maintain, assess and plan for a more reliable future.
Staff leave at Eskom was cancelled over Christmas. This was necessary, but it will hardly have boosted morale.
To now suggest that those Eskom employees who have continued to work hard to keep the lights on for as frequently as they have been…..should face further penalties is just mean-spirited.
In the main, these Eskomites are not the crooks, the incompetent, the culpable. Please let us go ahead and pay them their ‘I can’t believe it is not a bonus’ bonuses.
But do punish the right people. Every politician and government official who has had oversight of Eskom for the first 20 years of ANC misrule should have all of his/her pension and free travel allowances withdrawn, and – where possible – repaid.
The same applies to all those senior managers and board members who underperformed, stole, fucked things up.
There is every reason for all South Africans to be anger at Eskom.
But punish the real crooks, not those on whom we now rely more than ever to turn things around.
You know it is the right thing to do.