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Lifestyle audits await senior execs at power utility

Senior personnel at South Africa’s state-owned power utility, Eskom, face the possibility of undergoing independent lifestyle audits.

This follows last week’s warning that Eskom employees face dismissal if they continue to conduct personal business with their employer.

Now gunning for the company’s executives and senior managers, the independent lifestyle and conflict of interest audits form part of the power utility’s efforts to root out corruption, Eskom said on Friday.

The rocky status of Eskom’s corporate governance and lack of accountability – which came to the fore during media reporting and the evolving parliamentary inquiry – is now the motif of the utility’s new board – vowing to address governance problems at the utility and restore its financial standing.

Eskom board chairman, Jabu Mabuza, explained: “Our mandate is non-negotiable: we need to root out financial mismanagement, malfeasance and maladministration as a critical foundation to restoring transparent and effective governance.” Read more: Utility employees warned to cease doing business with Eskom

Lifestyle audits not new

Eskom’s former interim chief executive Sean Maritz first raised the lifestyle and conflict of interest audit at the National Energy Regulator of South Africa’s public hearings on Eskom’s tariff application in November last year.

At the time, Maritz shared that Eskom had “adopted a five-path plan to rebuild a robust governance process and preserve our core value of integrity”.

“This includes strengthening our general internal ethics and fraud framework, where we have reviewed and approved our ethics and fraud management policy,” he said.

However, there are long-standing employees who will possibly feel demotivated by this step and are deserving of an award instead. The African Utility Week Industry Awards is an opportunity to celebrate those who are out-performing the rest.

Review of Eskom contracts

Mabuza said the power utility was reviewing 160 contracts worth more than R1 billion ($83 million) as well as more than 5,000 contracts. Eskom has also set its sights on the ‘emergency procurement’ that has taken place over the past two years.

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe on Friday said the utility’s board had decided to implement the lifestyle audits. This will affect Eskom’s executive team, senior managers and middle managers.

There were 400 senior managers at Eskom, he said.


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