Eskom chairperson Mpho Makwana’s church is keeping the lights on despite owing the cash-strapped power utility millions of rands in arrears.
The International Pentecostal Holiness Church’s (IPHC) Silo branch in Zuurbekom, where Makwana is the secretary general of the church council, owes Eskom just under R3-million. The branch, which is led by one of the late Gayton Modise’s sons, Leonard Modise, was supposed to have paid the arrears on August 17 but failed to do so.
As secretary general of the church council and executive committee in Zuurbekom, the hefty monthly bill would have landed on Makwana’s church desk.
Eskom’s failure to disconnect electricity supply to Zuurbekom has the potential to compromise and expose Makwana to conflict of interest. This because it creates the impression the church is insulated from Eskom’s rolling disconnection of power to defaulters because of its close proximity to Makwana.
Makwana declined to comment and referred Sunday World to the church spokesperson AJ Wessie, who confirmed they were in arrears, adding that a payment arrangement had already been agreed with Eskom.
“We are in arrangements with Eskom at the moment, like all other institutions, including most municipalities.”
Wessie blamed the church’s arrears on the Covid-19 pandemic, saying churches were closed during that period, as well as on well-known divisions within the church.
“In addition, we’d like to reiterate that priest Mpho Makwana, secretary general of the IPHC council and exco as well as in his capacity as chairman of Eskom, is not involved with Eskom customer account matters,” said Wessie.
“As far as I know, Makwana is indeed a chair of Eskom and a member of our church. I am not sure if he is involved with clients’ accounts as a chairperson. But I can guarantee you that we made arrangements with the accounts department of Eskom and not with Makwana.”
Eskom told Sunday World that it took its customers’ privacy seriously and would not share personal information without their permission.
“In line with the Protection of Personal Information Act, Eskom is not at liberty to divulge the customer’s privileged information.”
In Makwana’s defence, the state-owned power utility said its customer service processes were designed to ensure that the board or its members were not involved in account matters.
“It is important to note Mpho Makwana, as the chairman of the Eskom board and a member of the church mentioned in your query, is not involved with customer account matters.
“Eskom would also like to confirm that our policy requires we only liaise with the designated account holder in such matters and can only deviate if consent is given by the customer.”