These problems were revealed by Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter and COO Jan Oberholzer in separate media briefings.
For over a year, Eskom promised South Africans that load-shedding would be significantly reduced from September 2021 because of their extensive maintenance plans.
Eskom asked the public to grin and bear load-shedding until this time as it was needed to create a reliable generation system.
The time of reckoning has now arrived, and Eskom failed miserably.
South Africa experienced the worst load-shedding it had ever seen over an October period. It was clear that Eskom promise of a more reliable generation system was misguided.
People were looking for answers, and De Ruyter and Oberholzer played open cards in recent media briefings.
Eskom’s Chief Operating Officer Jan Oberholzer confirmed that “pure negligence” by Eskom staff contributed to the recent load-shedding.
Oberholzer said employees did not perform their duties, which included ignoring alarms at power stations.
De Ruyter also admitted that their plants had been poorly maintained and remained unreliable.
“At this stage, our poorly maintained power plants are calling the shots. That is why we had load-shedding,” De Ruyter told The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield.
“We could have avoided it, but regrettably, the lack of reliability of our system caught up with us, and we had to implement load-shedding.”
De Ruyter admitted that incompetence and neglect by Eskom staff is one of the major reasons for the recent bout of load-shedding.
“When you look at the bad habits that many of Eskom employees acquired during the era of state capture – especially when some of my less than illustrious predecessors were in charge and pulled levers to enrich themselves — that embedded very poor operational practices,” he said.
“To unlearn those practices are going to require some doing. We have already made a number of management changes.”
The Eskom CEO added that they have a management gap at some of their power stations where the managers should improve their performance.
The problems do not stop there. There is a command structure below stations managers where Eskom has suffered a depletion of skills.
“One person cannot operate a power station, which means you have to rely on the skills you have available. That malaise which crept in over the years will take time to restore,” he said.
De Ruyter said the fact that many Eskom managers — who are exceptionally well paid — do not take pride in their jobs and ensure their power stations run well is causing him to lose sleep.
“This is an issue which leads to Eskom letting down 60 million South Africans. It is something the lackadaisical managers don’t understand.”
He dismissed speculation that the recent load-shedding was an orchestrated event.
“It was caused by a number of failures of key power plants, and as a consequence, we had to go into stage 4 load-shedding,” De Ruyter said.
De Ruyter also dismissed rumours that load-shedding was stopped over the election weekend because the government instructed Eskom to do it.
“This was entirely an Eskom decision. We have taken a look at the units that came back from unplanned outages, and we felt comfortable suspending load-shedding,” he said.