I left Eskom because I refused to be either oppressed or marginalized by White Artisans because I am Black. I have 3 Degrees in Engineering and I’m registered with International Professional bodies governing the Engineering Profession. The so-called White “Engineers” that Dirk refers to (were) and are White Matriculants or N3 graduates that Eskom referred to as Engineers, just because of the colour of their skins. In my stay in Eskom, I never came across one Black Artisan that earned a title of an “Engineer” by years of service.

An engineer’s response to politicians’​ claims that Black professionals are the cause of Eskom’s collapse

Bring Back Skilled Engineers to Eskom – so says Solidarity

I would like to respond to the assertions made by Dirk Hermann and the uninformed Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Godhan. I read the article below with the highest magnitude of disgust and I felt compelled to respond to it.

If we continue to racialize our problems this country is facing, we’ll never succeed as a Nation.

Firstly, I would like to state what was my highlight on the article. The article, basically says “Eskom became obsessed with retrenching White “Competent Engineers” and replaced them with the incompetent Black Engineers for Affirmative Action”.

I worked for Eskom for many years and I never came across the Register of such competent people and neither did I witness their legacy of novelty they left behind. By the way, former White Eskom “Engineers” never left Eskom, they were only transferred from normal Salaried Employees to Contractors who continued to milk Eskom. Those that remained Eskom Salaried Employees were given special titles such as “Coperate Specialists” or the so-called”Grey-Beards”. This was done and continue to be done irrespective of their qualifications and measurable contribution. These “Specialists” or “Grey-Beards” have two mandates; marginalize qualified Black Engineers and to milk Eskom by providing no sustainable solutions so that they remain relevant to the Organisation.

I left Eskom because I refused to be either oppressed or marginalized by White Artisans just because I am Black. By the way, I have 3 Degrees in Engineering and I’m registered with International Professional bodies governing the Engineering Profession. The so-called White “Engineers” that Dirk refers to (were) and are White Matriculants or N3 graduates that Eskom referred to as Engineers, just because of the colour of their skins. In my stay in Eskom, I never came across one Black Artisan that earned a title of an “Engineer” by years of service.

Most of the problems Eskom is facing, particularly in Generation, does not require Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton. They require Competent People to resolve them and those people are still within Eskom but their Technical contributions are suppressed by the Club that intends extending their relevance in Eskom. The biggest challenge at Eskom is that Technical Solutions have been monopolized by the so-called”Grey-Beards” who have powers beyond Engineering Managers. 

Maybe I should ask Dirk & Pravin if they could distinguish amongst an “Engineer”, “Technician” and “Artisan”…. Then ask if such a distinction exist in Eskom, particularly if you are not Black. The highest paid “Engineers” & Technical Decision makers in Eskom have no Engineering Degrees and they are not Black. The Gentlemen’s Club that decides what Eskom does have no best interest for Eskom. They are and can only be regarded as “Engineers” at Eskom and nowhere else. 

If you can audit all Technical or Professional Services contracts you’ll soon realise what I’m talking about. Look at contracts that have been in existence for over 10 years and ask yourself what those service providers have delivered and why their contracts continue to be renewed.

The Pharmacist or I should say “Medicine Dispenser”, Pravin thinks he’s the Best thing that this country has ever seen and he thinks he’s the Master of all. Right now, on top of all Eskom’s list of problems, it’s Pravin Godhan. He must stop being a “News24 Engineer” and thinking issuing “ibuprofen” qualifies him to evaluate Engineering Competencies.

If Pravin wants to continue driving his agenda of enriching the few families, he must never attribute Eskom failures to our Competency as Black Professional Engineers. Him & Ramaphosa must present other reasons for privatising Eskom, and that must not be done in our names. 

Engineering is the only field that is not properly regulated although we have the Engineering Council of South Africa who’s supposed to be protecting the Profession. I am yet to come across a Nurse who gets called a “Medical Doctor” after 20 years of service….. Maybe Dr. Aaron Motswaledi can name one….

In conclusion, it would be interesting to get comments from Professor Phakeng (UCT Vice Chancellor), Professor Adam Habib (Wits VC) and Professor Nana Noku (UKZN Acting VC) with regard to the quality of Engineering Graduates they have produced for Eskom and their (Graduates) leadership abilities. Their comments would help us understand why Eskom Engineering is currently being led by TVET Colleges Graduates. 

As a Black Professional & an Engineer, I refuse to take responsibility for the mess created by corrupt politicians and opportunistic White people like Dirk Hermann. 

It is unprecedented that we must accept the attack from a Group of White People who have now recruited puppets like Senzo Mnchunu, Pravin Godhan and Cyril Ramaphosa to continue driving their agenda of condescending at our abilities as Black Professionals. Interesting enough that you find former Teachers like Mnchunu, Pharmacists like Godhan and Constable Ramaphosa commenting about lack of leadership from their fellow Black Professionals and their solution appears to be “Call the Whites, they’ll solve your problems”. 

Bongani Mvelase (former Eskom Engineer, PhD, CEng, PrEng, MEI)

Join the conversation! 13 Comments

  1. LOL ….. he he he …. theres a reason why whites are called engineers ….

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  2. Pravin is blaming Escom’s failure to incompetence and corruption. When you have time listen to the revelations in the Zondo and other commissions to get an accurate assessment of why Escom and other SOE’s are in it’s current predicament.It is furthermore irrelevant how many degrees one has.8 It is more important what you do with your degrees. Your post is riddled with racialised assertions so it is a bit rich accusing others of doing so.

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  3. Let me guess…you never left Eskom, you were fired. Why? Either for stealing, fraud, being crap at your job or being found out having fake degrees. Now you are a disgruntled racist ex-employee who hates whites and will lie about just anything to make yourself look good.

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    • Bloody fool! You are assuming the worst of him because he is black? I worked for Eskom too and I also left. I would never work under an N3 certificate holder who was named an engineer simply because of his skin color.

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    • It’s not just Eskom. White people everywhere become managers with only Matric certificates while managing highly qualified employees. Don’t you dare.

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  4. Bongani my brother, I felt crying reading this. I know exactly what you are talking about. I know Van Niekerks, Coetzees, Terblanches, Van Vureens who are called “Technical Specialists” at Eskom with N3 certificates! A White man is overrated in South Africa.

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  5. White people really are overrated

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  6. It’s so sad to hear that black brothers are treated this way 20 years in our democracy

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  7. One swallow maketh not the end of winter. One exceptionally-well qualified and articulate black professional maketh not an entire black nation literate, numerate and forward thinking sufficient enough to manage a highly sophisticated economy!!!

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  8. Perhaps Bongani, if he has one, should look up the meaning of engineer in a dictionary as a starter. Obviously he is oblivious of the fact that what is required or a necessity, of applying a culture of work, expertise, proficiency and skillfulness in any position of employment. Bongani and his ilk are the prime examples of why most state enterprises are heading for failure.

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