No diet as Eskom boss not willing to cut R1.5bn food budget

Brian Molefe says Eskom will not get anywhere by cutting staff benefits.

FILE: New acting Eskom CEO Brian Molefe says Eskom will not get anywhere by cutting staff benefits. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Questions continue to be raised around Brian Molefe's leadership at Eskom and whether he's able to prioritise the company's problems and still keep employees happy.

This follows reports about the R1.5 billion spent on catering and meals for employees including contractors at Medupi and Kusile power plants.

Acting CEO Molefe says this is something that he is reluctant to cut back on and staff should not bear the brunt for the utility's power troubles.

"We've reduced load shedding to almost nil. We're not going to get anywhere by cutting staff benefits and making employees feel like they are to blame for everything that is happening."

Late last month, Molefe said South Africans were justified in feeling irritated by load shedding and acknowledged the cost to the economy.

But Molefe said power outages must be 'endured' so that long stalled maintenance of generating plants can be carried out.

Molefe insisted the power utility was not on the verge of insolvency and said that if 3,000 extra megawatts could be fed into the national grid; load shedding might be a thing of the past by the end of the year.

He said finding 3,000 extra megawatts of power will close the gap between peak demand and what's available when plants are shut down for maintenance and others break down unexpectedly.

That would mean an end to load shedding, perhaps as soon as the end of 2015.

Meanwhile, Eskom says South Africa's two new giant coal-fired stations, Medupi and Kusile, are expected to be completed by 2021.