Communities in and around eMalahleni in Mpumalanga have marched to the Kendal Power Station demanding to be considered for economic opportunities. The group claims that the power station overlooks them on job and procurement opportunities.

The Kendal station is one of Eskom’s power plants in eMalahleni.  Residents of areas that include Ogies, Wilge, Kendal, claim that the power station only employs people from other areas. This is despite locals possessing relevant qualifications.

They also claim that locals are not benefiting from the power station’s social investment initiatives.

“As the communities, we are not benefiting from Kendal Power Station, only outsiders benefit in terms of procurement, skills development, and employment opportunities. I have more than five children and my kids live in an RDP house, we have tried to upskill ourselves, but nothing happens,” says one of the residents.

The leader of the march Collen Mahlobo says they have written letters and held protests at the power station, but their pleas are falling on deaf ears.

“They are pushing projects, we don’t know these people, they are from Joburg. Even us local people they can’t engage us, that is our main problem, another thing is employment, we have small businesses, they are not developing us.”

Meanwhile, the power utility Spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha says Eskom has established community development forums that are responsible for ensuring that local communities benefit from power stations activities. He advised the group to engage with its community development forum.

“These are structures which represent members of the surrounding  communities to which all job and economic opportunities available at the power station get advertised, every member of the community is eligible to apply for opportunities through these structures.”

The latest eMalahleni unemployment rate is 26.6%.