The suspension of four top Eskom executives indicates a collapse of governance at the parastatal, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Thursday.
“Clearly it means there is collapse of governance. We would have expected that the chairperson of Eskom’s board should have been the one who is fired,” general secretary Frans Baleni told journalists outside the NUM’s national bargaining conference in Midrand.
“We did raise a concern about the reinstatement of this chairperson when the new board [had] been established.
“We reject this because we’ve never been consulted. We think that there is a bigger picture rather than to gun for these four executives.”
Earlier on Thursday, Eskom chairman Zola Tsotsi said the four executives, including chief executive Tshediso Matona, had been asked to step aside as the power utility embarked on a fact-finding inquiry.
The other three are finance director Tsholofelo Molefe, group capital executive Dan Morokane, and commercial and technology executive Matshela Koko.
Non-executive board member Zethembe Khoza would become interim chief executive.
“There is no intent or suspicion of wrongdoing, there are no charges against them,” Tsotsi said.
“There is no malice. There is no wrongdoing that is under consideration.”
It was an inquiry, not an investigation, into the poor performance of generation plants, delays in bringing plants on-stream, the high costs of primary energy, and cash-flow problems.
The executives had been asked to step down for the duration of the inquiry, he told reporters in Johannesburg.
Tsotsi said the process would not last longer than three months. There was no hidden agenda behind the inquiry, but the board needed to establish a baseline of where Eskom was.
Baleni said the timing of the suspension was poor.
“We had just made a call of save Eskom, doing things differently including the involvement of labour,” he said.
“Couldn’t there be a better approach in dealing with the concerns they’re having? Because nobody is saying that somebody’s corrupt, nobody’s saying somebody abused resources.”
He said government must take responsibility, rather than penalising certain individuals.
“They’ve just appointed this CEO. What message are they sending to these individuals?” Baleni asked.
Matona was announced as Eskom’s new CEO in August last year and took up his position on September 1.