The three organisations suspended their participation in the NGO forum in February following media reports that Swartberg was spying on them.
“The use of private companies to gather intelligence from stakeholders is unacceptable and not how Eskom does business,’’ Eskom CE Brian Dames said. “To the extent that this may have happened as a consequence, even if unintended, is regrettable and Eskom apologises for this.’’
According to the representatives of the affected organisations - groundWork, Earthlife Africa and Greenpeace, Eskom has made full disclosure on this matter to them.
“We believe that our key demands which were for a full internal investigation and a public apology have been met. We therefore think it is in order to return to the stakeholder forum where we will continue to engage and where necessary, challenge Eskom on its energy choices,” said groundWork, Earthlife Africa and Greenpeace’s respective representatives Bobby Peek, Tristen Taylor and Michael O’Brien Onyeka.
Medupi security management had entered into the contract with Swartberg to ensure protection of the site and to better anticipate threats to personnel and property following civil unrest at Medupi in May 2011, said Eskom.
After terminating the contract with Swartberg, Eskom commissioned independent legal firm Bowman Gilfillan to investigate the matter and to make recommendations.
The investigation found that while gathering intelligence to prevent security threats to personnel and property is within the norms of ordinary business practice, there was concern about the way in which the contract was managed and the risks for Eskom in contracting such services, Eskom said.
Eskom has since taken steps to strengthen internal controls and prevent a recurrence including:
- Terminating the contract
- Bringing the issue to the attention of the South African Police Service to determine whether any laws were contravened and if any further action is required
- Ensuring that in future that any such threats be referred to the appropriate state agencies for action
Eskom will also implement the recommendations made including:
- Disciplinary action being taken against individuals who did not comply with Eskom’s policies
- Generally reviewing and strengthening contract management and oversight to ensure proper management of service providers’ mandates and to ensure that the scope of work is not exceeded
- Compiling risk profiles for service providers
The way forward:
groundWork, Earthlife Africa Jhb and Greenpeace Africa recognise that Eskom has taken steps to ensure that the unethical spying on citizens of this country will not happen again, the groups said.
Recognising that their demands have been met, groundWork, Earthlife Africa and Greenpeace wish to put this matter behind them and continue to work toward increased access to clean energy at prices that South African citizens can afford, and to work with Eskom promote better transparency, accountability and sharing of information by Eskom. Eskom and the NGOs commit to continued dialogue on sustainable development.
The Eskom NGO Forum is aimed at facilitating meetings and workshops with environmental NGOs to share information on Eskom’s strategy to reduce particulate emissions and water management. The NGOs also use the platform to present their views on these and other environmental issues.
NGO contact details:
Mbong Akiy: Greenpeace Africa Interim Communications Director
Phone: 0716881274 / 0711668002
Michael O’Brien Onyeka: Greenpeace Africa Executive Director
Phone: 079 512 9381
Earthlife Africa Jhb
Tristen Taylor: Project Coordinator, Earthlife Africa Jhb
Phone: 084 250 2434
Bobby Peek, Director: groundWork, Friends of the Earth, South Africa
Phone: 082 464 1383