Eskom considers cutting down R1bn 'catering budget'

According to reports, Eskom spent close to R1 billion for catering at its Kusile and Medupi power plants.

FILE: Eskom says it will consider looking at opportunities to cut down costs following reports that the parastatal has spent close to R1 billion for catering at its Kusile and Medupi power plants. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom said it will consider looking at opportunities to cut down costs following reports that the parastatal has spent close to R1 billion for catering at its Kusile and Medupi power plants.

On Sunday, the utility defended its spending on subsidised meals, saying that it had to prioritise the quality of food and access because most of its employees work in remote areas.

The Democratic Alliance has responded with backlash and has asked for an urgent inquiry into the matter.

Spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe admits that the provision of meals at some of its offices is not obligatory, but it has worked well for the company.

"We obviously have an agreement with the contractors so we basically centralised things so we don't have people going away for a long time looking for food."

The parastatal has been battling a series of financial woes and has had to review its costs over the years.

More than 12,000 Medupi Power Station workers are still on an unprotected strike led by National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa).

The workers are demanding better living conditions in hostels, bonuses for the completion of unit six as well as a higher living-out allowance.

Eskom is struggling to keep the lights on in Africa's most advanced economy due to a lack of maintenance of its aging power stations and suffers delays in bringing new plants on stream.

The utility is desperately trying to plug a funding shortfall of about R225 billion partly caused by selling its electricity too cheaply.

Weary South Africans are subjected to frequent controlled power cuts which Eskom implements to prevent the grid from being overwhelmed.