Our Burning Planet


Those Mantashe remarks and an ‘untenable’ situation – De Ruyter reveals why he had to leave Eskom

Those Mantashe remarks and an ‘untenable’ situation – De Ruyter reveals why he had to leave Eskom
Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe. (Photo: Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Felix Dlangamandla) | Eskom CEO André de Ruyter. (Photo: Gallo Images / Rapport / Deon Raath)

A week after Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe publicly accused Eskom management of ‘agitating for the overthrow of the state’, outgoing Eskom group chief executive André de Ruyter on Thursday pointed to ‘recent media reports’ as the reason for his continued tenure being untenable.

Outgoing Eskom group chief executive André de Ruyter has given the clearest reason for his resignation this week, saying he had “lost the support of the political economy”.

At a media briefing on Thursday, De Ruyter pointed to “recent media reports” as the reason for his continued tenure being untenable.

Chief among these are recent news reports in which Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe accused Eskom and its leadership of “agitating for the overthrow of the state”. In November, he called De Ruyter a “policeman” who did not have what it took to run the utility. 

Daily Maverick has approached Mantashe for comment, but this was not received by the time of publication. 

Daily Maverick previously reported that the minister made incendiary comments during a signing ceremony at the Independent Power Producers’ (IPP) office in Centurion on 8 December 2022. 

“We are from the period of State Capture, but load shedding is becoming worse than State Capture,” Mantashe said, adding that the levels of crime and sabotage were limiting economic growth.

“Any other government can be overthrown for this level of load shedding. Eskom, by not attending to load shedding, is agitating for the overthrow of the state. If it is not addressed, then the state will be failing to do what it needs to do… load shedding is urgent; it must be attended to sooner than later.” 

“We’re engaging with Eskom more aggressively and telling them to get investment into the grid as quickly as possible… energy is always used as a factor that attracts investment into the economy,” said Mantashe.

Read more in Daily Maverick:Gwede Mantashe has harsh words for Eskom as additional 1,759MW of renewables signed up 

In the time since, President Cyril Ramaphosa, Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan and the Eskom board have remained silent on Mantashe’s claims. 

Read more in Daily Maverick:André de Ruyter had a year from hell – and then he lost his political cover

Now, in his first public statements since news of his resignation broke, De Ruyter – in general terms – laid out why he is leaving. 

“I think the circumstances surrounding Eskom are well known. The operational challenges, the financial challenges, the challenges surrounding societal matters including crime and corruption as well as some of the issues that we have experienced in delivering the unbundling of Eskom and making sure that we can achieve our objectives in that regard.”  

Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations

De Ruyter continued: “With that said… I am in a position where I’m also dependent on the support of the broader political economy and that support is absolutely critical to enabling the success of Eskom going forward. Given recent media reports, I’m unfortunately currently in a position where I do not regard that position as being tenable and I have accordingly decided to step back.”   

A traitor?

Asked directly whether he regards De Ruyter as a traitor plotting the overthrow of the government, Eskom board chairperson Mpho Makwana sidestepped providing a definitive answer.

“I don’t think it’s within my purview to determine whether Mr De Ruyter is a traitor or not. I think that question should rightfully be tabled to its source where those statements would have been uttered… So I don’t think I’m qualified to answer whether Mr De Ruyter is a traitor or not,” he said.

Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan shared his thoughts too. 

“In relation to overthrow of the state and traitor, the emphatic answer is ‘no’ and I’m not going to qualify it anyway because I think that it’s unfair. Whatever comments anyone might have about any individual, it is absolutely unfair, and uncalled for, to use that kind of language for somebody who tried their best to get Eskom out of the mess that it was in on to a different kind of platform,” Gordhan said. 

Answering a question, he added that “one doesn’t have to have public spat or differences in order to discourage whoever it might be in Cabinet or outside from making statements that are unhelpful at a time when we need to engender confidence both in the institution and also in government as well”.

“So, each of us has a different style in terms of how we manage these matters and I can assure you that Mr Mantashe doesn’t want anybody to be scared of him by any stretch of the imagination… those hyperboles that were used were precisely that.” 

Gordhan continued that there should be continuity at Eskom in a number of the actions and programmes undertaken there under De Ruyter’s leadership.  

“What we do require is greater deal of continuity, more stability, but that is why it is important that the people I described as termites – those who want to play a destructive role rather than a constructive role in a key area like energy supply and energy security – must be the people… all of us need to address to reduce the pressure on Eskom from unwelcome sources.

“Those who want to play a nefarious part in upsetting an important institution must be identified, must be named and must be dealt with not by just the law enforcement agencies but by society as well, so that we don’t just focus on one or two individuals who are ‘easy targets’, but focus on the real culprits, both in the past and in the current situation who are creating misery for millions of people in South Africa.” DM

Absa OBP

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  • Hermann Funk says:

    “Asked directly whether he regards De Ruyter as a traitor plotting the overthrow of the government, Eskom board chairperson Mpho Makwana sidestepped providing a definitive answer.”

    A nice boss to have. Now we know that the new board is not capable/willing to get ESKOM back on track.

    • Paul T says:

      What a gutless spineless answer. This the chairperson taking over until the gap is filled? We need people of strength at the top, not jellyfish.

    • Malcolm Mitchell says:

      It is truly disappointing that the new Chair of the Board will not give a straight answer. What is he frightened of?
      It all comes down to the ANC’s trying to evade the responsibility of decades of indecision from Mbeki’s days and poor management, including corruption as pointed out by Zondo, in order to remain in power. My major disappointment is Ramaphosa for who I had high hopes.

      • Johann Olivier says:

        I was never sold on CR. He may be the best of a sorry bunch, but he is no answer. From shop steward to billionaire in short order. Really? Zuma’s deputy during the halcyon years of state capture. Phala Phala. It’s all simply depressing. How sweet it would be if someone would tell Mantashe that he seems to have conveniently missed ALL the real ‘traitors’ during the Zuma years.

  • Greg King King says:

    Those who want to play a nefarious part in upsetting an important institution must be identified, must be named and must be dealt with not by just the law enforcement agencies but by society as well,
    Uhm! That would be Mantashe!

  • nickha says:

    Oh dear! There is new scope for ANC cadres and state capture veterans to take over ESCOM and feast on the leftovers. Shame on Mantashe and Makwana. Can’t wait to sae how they are going to resolve the issue! They must know that responsibility for ESCOM is now theirs.

    • John Gosling says:

      Appoint Mantashe as CEO, he has all the answers.

      • Peter Dexter says:

        What a great idea 👍👍 Then in six months time he will be the traitor

      • Kanu Sukha says:

        Correct … except that he will probably take the outcome to ‘court’ … like he is doing with the State Capture report in which he has been identified/fingered as a recipient of a ‘bribe’ – one which he has not denied receiving … but wants to turn it into a political football ! Typical pot- bellied politician.

  • Easy Does It says:

    Mantasha needs to tell us if he is selling ESKOM to the Russians or Chinese for his payday. It must be more than BOSASA Security upgrades.

  • Bruce Logan says:

    It’s easy to come forward after the fact of Andre de Ruyter’s resignation with so-called “support”. It is once again a telling indictment of our supposed “leaders” that the Eskom CEO has long laboured without the necessary political support, but now the very “leaders” who should have been taking responsibility come out once again with nothing but weasel words (apologies to all honourable weasels out there!!). It is unforgivable that we are in our present plight in terms of electricity supply simply due to successive governments either dragging their heels when the fixes have long been known, or actually maliciously destroying Eskom and many, many other state institutions. I truly despair for all of us who have no options but to stay here; can we weather the storm, or are we to be swept?

  • Terry Reynolds says:

    Mr De Ruyter is an honest and hard working man that deserved so much more support from the politicians than he received and in particular, I’m saying the both Ramaphosa and/or Gordan should have shut down Mantashe immediately – what he’s still doing in government is beyond me, but that’s another debate.
    it’s fairly obvious that there is so much sabotage, ingrained corruption and theft at the individual power stations that something needs to be done beyond expecting Eskom management to deal with it. Maybe it’s time to deploy the army to each and every one to help combat the scourge that is destroying the country.

  • Derek Engelbrecht says:

    De Ruyter’s job was not to fix the power stations – they had enough incompetents to do that. He was there to root out corruption but could never have completed his task with a BEE noose around his neck. Mantashe’s comments reflect his real intellect.

  • Jaqueline Perkes says:

    All talk and no do. Hyperbole? Rubbish. These ministers just dance around each hot potato they put in their mouths, along with their feet. A grave injustice has been done to Andre de Ruyter and mouthing platitudes and gobbledegook is just not cutting it.

  • Rob Wilson says:

    Mantashe’s comment linking load shedding to treason can be seen in a few ways. Being demonstrative of extreme ignorance of matters technical is the first. The second is political dodging. The fingers are pointing straight back to the accuser when one asks who took over control of Eskom two decades ago and simply destroyed a world class efficient utility supplier.

  • Andrew Gunn says:

    “we don’t just focus on one or two individuals who are ‘easy targets’, but focus on the real culprits, both in the past and in the current situation who are creating misery for millions of people in South Africa.”
    Well said Pravin Gorrdhan, not suprised you haven’t been proposed to the ANC NEC!!

  • quinton says:

    Caredyl what you wish for. Mantashe and Co will sow what they reap.

  • Elmarie Dennis says:

    Dear mr de Ruyter thank you for your service to our beautiful country. We appreciate your devoted service at Eskom. The gracious Hand of God is on. They that plot iniquity and sow wickedness reap the same. God bless our beautiful country with people of integrity and people that want to serve our nation.

  • Nos Feratu says:

    Gweedy & co have had over 20 years to weed out the termites – as he refers to them – but in typical ANC fashion the can is kicked down the road and nothing happens.

  • Malcolm Royal says:

    What a huge blunder by the Minister.
    Where will a new CEO with Mr de Ruyter’s credentials be found?
    AND The COO leaves in April too.
    Here starts a downhill spiral with huge Economic consequences for South Africa.

    • Jane Crankshaw says:

      The first time I found myself seriously concerned for the economic and political future of this country was the “sofa saga” and yesterday I became certain that this is really happening – South Africa is actually sinking into the darkness. And as all good and bad things come in threes,I await the next and final catastrophe with bated breath!

  • Richard Bryant says:

    This statement by Mantashe is as bad if not worse than Dlamini Zuma this week defying the party line.

    When Ramaphosa came to power, one of the first things he did was fix the boards of the corrupt SOEs. I clearly remember the triumph exuded by Ramaphosa when he announced the reconstruction of the Eskom board with De Ruyter at the helm.

    Mantashe’s attack on De Ruyter is therefore blatant undermining of what Ramaphosa put together. Of course Ramaphosa sat in the background and said and did nothing. But it is entirely inappropriate for a minister who serves at the pleasure of the President to undermine him like this. He should be equally hauled before the disciplinary committee and fired.

    • Kanu Sukha says:

      Remember that CR needs the support of incompetent and excessively corpulent Gwede, to cling onto power .

    • Oliver Rissik says:

      Hauled before the disciplinary committee?? He should be kicked out of the cabinet like the rabid …. he is. His comments show his total lack of any technical intelligence. This is another nail in Eskom’s coffin, like the many he has nailed into the mining coffin!

  • Y Cato says:

    Were Mantashe’s comments just the unfortunate utterings of a fool, or were there something more nefarious behind them? Who benefits by having De Ruyter’s attention drawn away from theft and sabotage at Eskom? On the other hand, who benefits by the loss of De Ruyter’s support for renewable energy? Mantashe’s actions seem to benefit some dark forces.

  • Glyn Morgan says:

    It all comes down to the fact that the ANC has had it’s day and is m=now on the way out. It is time to think of an alternative that will build South Africa into the great country it should be. In the short term, 5 -10 years, till the ANC dust has settled, the Democratic Alliance is the only party with what it takes to do the job.

    • Jane Crankshaw says:

      The only way to play fair is to give tax payers more votes on a graded system depending on their contribution. This way, the people who are paying to keep this country afloat will have a bigger say in a more equable society. The Party Political system is broken ( worldwide) it needs to be replaced by something new…something less partisan…and less divisive.

  • Colleen Dardagan says:

    Just depressing while the ANC and their acolytes gather at Midrand to feast. What do we have to do to get rid of these politicians, what?

  • Roelf Pretorius says:

    Private Eskom completely and let them compete on the open market. As long as the politicians have ANY influence on the SOE we are going to be more and more in the dark, because the politicians, especially Mantashe, are not interested in solutions. After all, it is Mantashe that is the problem; it is HE that are delaying the roll-out of more grid capacity, nobody else. And as for Ramaphosa, I give him time until after this conference, and if he does not fire Mantashe, well, then he is also not worth his salt. I am convinced that the con-committal remarks of the Eskom board chairperson is because they don’t want to be also in the firing line of the politicians.

  • Andrew McWalter says:

    Gwedi is either a brainless zombie, or he has a serious memory problem. 25 years ago, the ANC ignored advice from Eskom that a maintenance program needed to be adopted. The ANC opted for pocketing this money instead. Now Gwedi says Andre’ De Ruiter’s 3-year tenure trying to reverse the damage of the past 25 years, is threatening the stability of the ANC and the country. Heavens alive, it should be clear and obvious to everyone with half a brain that that ANC has sole claim to that title!

  • William Stucke says:

    > “We’re engaging with Eskom more aggressively and telling them to get investment into the grid as quickly as possible… energy is always used as a factor that attracts investment into the economy,” said Mantashe.

    Hey, Gweezy! Have you forgotten that YOU are the gatekeeper for new investment in energy production and that you’ve done your level best over the years to ensure that there is as little as possible?

    Don’t pass the buck to Eskom when they are unable to invest without approval from the DMRE (which, BTW, has done a sterling job in destroying the entire mining industry in SA). Well done!

  • Luan Sml says:

    Don’t see much hope for the new board or Eskom now that de Ruyter has resigned, he was a shining light in the darkness that is Eskom! The chair of the board already talking with the forked political tongue… instead of emphatically supporting his CEO, he waffles and points to the “source” sending the subliminal message to the new board members that they can expect little support when it matters… so toe the political line, look the other way, don’t speak out and take the monthly cheque… aluta continua!

  • Rg Bolleurs says:

    The solution to eskom is to privatise the old power stations that they seem incapable of running. Sell them off for a rand each and let the private sector invest in and run them.

    Then buy the power back at a price that gives eskom a good margin.

    Watch loadshedding end overnight

    • William Stucke says:

      While that’s a good suggestion in principle, RG, I’m willing to bet how it would pan out …

      Some BEE bunch buys the power stations, strips them and sells them for scrap

  • Jon Quirk says:

    Mr Mantashe is on record in saying that in his opinion, du Ruyter was too much the policeman. He needs to elaborate on this, because, to an ordinary citizen such as myself, I read this as either saying that criminal syndicates, acting within Eskom, or as suppliers to Eskom (with insiders there clearly assisting), are not a very serious threat to the economic viability to Eskom, or he is saying that such criminals are leaning on Mantashe to get du Ruyter out of the way because his “policeman activities” are interfering and preventing them from continuing so successfully their criminal enterprises, to, of course, the serious detriment of Eskom and therefore, SA Inc.

    Both of these have very serious alternatives have very serious implications, not the least being that either would support the notion that Mantashe is acting treasonously.

    So it is incumbent on him to come very clean and explain to ALL South Africans what he meant.

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    I would not take anything Mantashe says as serious or worthy. The man is a totally incompetent individual, way past his sell by date, and a total hypocrite and buffoon. Where was he when Zuma and his poodles were ravaging Eskom and SA during the state capture years? He was in the top 6, ANC Secretary General whatever that means and a leading obnoxious member of his equally obnoxious party/government who shielded and protected Zuma and co for ages. That he has the right to speak, pronounce and hold key positions in government is truly astounding. Only in a banana republic and most unfortunately, the reality that the highly abused and long suffering citizens of this country has to endure. As for Mkwana- another useless cadre in the ANC mould.

  • virginia crawford says:

    Mantashe has betrayed the people of this country, he should resign!

    • Elizabeth Lamb says:

      Mantashe (an old time classical communist) is the dictator that rules the President, ANC government and the entire RSA. Why has he so much power? Dark secrets in the ANC or perhaps a little help from Putin?

  • Christopher Bedford says:

    Mantashe’s comments are truly astonishing and worthy of Donald Trump. All those things he’s accusing “Eskom” of – lack of investment in infrastructure, inability to fix load shedding – are due directly and 100% to ANC interference in the utility. It absolutely boggles the mind that (a) people even say this kind of thing, but (b) they get away with it, over and over and with total impunity.

  • Marc Caldwell says:

    I see the Karpower ships on the horizon; and Russian crude oil tankers not far behind them. “Follow the (corrupt) money.”

  • Karl Nepgen says:

    The biggest, most blatant, traitor in the Eskom and energy failure is Mantashe himself. If his boss had any guts, and would use his brains, Mantashe should be charged with high treason for plotting and achieving his goal of undermining the SA economy. Any sane person would ask why would he want to do this – and any sane person would have a good answer.

  • Brian Christie says:

    Let’s not call Mantashe a fool. He knew exactly what he was doing. In addition to being a racist attack, this was an attack mostly on Ramaphosa, who appointed de Ruyter. Ramaphosa is in a vulnerable position because of the upcoming conference, so he once again chickened out of responding. De Ruyter – just an easy target because he is a white man running a parastatal and therefore lacking any political support base. The plan seems to be to remove all honest people from responsible positions so the looting can become entrenched.

  • Altus Lombard says:

    I do not comment on Gwede Mantashe’s remarks because the man is too stupid to be taken seriously.
    But let us not forget that Pravin Gordhan also recently criticized the Eskom management from the sideline. This criticism without offering any solutions, without any leadership and without offering any support. And Gordhan is the minister responsible for keeping the lights on. Will he be held accountable?

  • John Strydom says:

    Meanwhile, Gwede’s real choice, the Karpowerships consortium, is waiting in the wings….

  • Marijke Schopman says:

    I think it is high time that the ANC / or the people of SA/ gets Gwede Mantashe to resign, as the country will face very dark days with him in a seat of power, especially the power over energy in SA

  • Antonio Tonin says:

    This is to an extent off topic – my apologies. But I think possibly relevant in the context of Eskom which is so critical to the country’s survival and well-being, regardless of any socio-political considerations. Looking at the names of people who have already engaged in commenting and responding, I have a concern: Almost all sound like white people’s names. DM, are you losing the readership of black South Africans? Or if not, why this apparent racial imbalance in engagement?

  • Ivan van Heerden says:

    Greedy Mantashe wants the Karpower ships and the lucrative tenders his family will get. It is absolutely sickening that this country is held hostage by gangster and a criminal mafia masquerading as a government.

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