ESKOM chairman Bobby Godsell rode to the rescue of the utility's chief executive in Parliament yesterday, defending Jacob Maroga's reported 26,7percent pay rise as a promotion increase and not an annual pay hike.
As MPs lined up to slam Maroga's increase, Godsell criticised newspaper reports on it as "deeply misleading and unhelpful" and said, with visible irritation: "Let's stick to the facts."
He said the salary increase Maroga could fairly have expected after being promoted from within the company had been staggered over two years following his appointment in 2007.
The second tranche, combined with a nine percent inflation-related annual adjustment, had accounted for the increase reported in the company's annual statement.
"If you want to argue, argue about whether you think five million rand is too much or too little for the CEO of Eskom," Godsell said.
DA spokesman on energy Sejamothopo Motau said Eskom was operating in an "accountability vacuum".
Referring to documents published last week that showed Eskom had been warned about the impending coal supply crisis that enhanced last year's blackouts, he said: "This is the man who was warned about capacity problems long before load shedding had to be implemented and then fired the messenger.
"It is the same person who knew about the mismanagement of coal supplies and procurement, but did nothing. And now, it is the same person who will be asking for a further electricity price increase though this tariff hike would have been less if Eskom had not been as wasteful with taxpayers' money," he said.
Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan repeated the same explanation in Parliament later after representatives of opposition parties had spoken out against Maroga's latest hike.