POLITICS & POWER
André de Ruyter released from Eskom ‘with immediate effect’ following explosive interview
Eskom CEO André De Ruyter has left his job a month earlier than planned after reaching an agreement with the board. His early exit follows a candid interview on political interference and corruption at the embattled power utility.
In an interview with e.tv aired on Tuesday, 21 February, outgoing Eskom CEO André De Ruyter said it appeared Cabinet members were aware of and accepted widespread corruption at the embattled power utility. On Wednesday, he was “released from his position with immediate effect”.
De Ruyter resigned in December 2022 and was due to leave his job at the end of March. Eskom announced his early departure on Wednesday evening.
“Following the convening of a special board meeting on 22 February 2023, the Eskom Board and group chief executive Andrè de Ruyter have reached mutual agreement to curtail his notice period to 28 February 2023,” Eskom said in a statement.
“The board further resolved that Mr de Ruyter will not be required to serve the balance of his notice period, but that he will be released from his position with immediate effect.”
De Ruyter resigned following Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe’s claims that Eskom was “agitating for the overthrow of the state” by failing to address unprecedented levels of load shedding.
President Cyril Ramaphosa failed to defend the CEO from Mantashe’s attacks, which has been interpreted as an attempt to keep his critical ANC ally on his side.
Read more in Daily Maverick: “Eskom CEO André de Ruyter resigns”
De Ruyter was asked in the e.tv interview whether Eskom was an ANC “feeding trough”. “I would say the evidence suggests that it is,” he responded.
De Ruyter said he told a minister, who he did not name, he was concerned about attempts to “water down” governance of the $8.5-billion deal reached at COP26 to fund the country’s just transition to cleaner and renewable energy sources.
De Ruyter said the Cabinet member told him to be practical and that “in order to pursue the greater good, you have to let some people eat a little bit”.
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He also claimed that he had been under surveillance by State Security Agency members and that the ANC had an outdated socialist mindset and was focused on winning elections rather than long-term stability.
“They want what will win them the next election – not what will keep the country going for the next two decades.”
Read more in Daily Maverick: “INTERVIEW — André de Ruyter says initial police investigators in poisoning case were ‘out of their depth”
Responding on Wednesday, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan was clearly irked by De Ruyter’s comments.
“What’s important is that CEOs of any entity, including Eskom, should not be involved in open political debates or assertions, and where they have political views, that is their private business and they are welcome to express those views privately,” Gordhan was quoted as saying in TimesLive.
“But it is the responsibility of any CEO of any entity, as far as I am concerned, to keep their focus on the job at hand and make sure that is done as proficiently as possible.”
Gordhan added: “I think it’s a well-known and undeniable fact that corruption has been a feature both in Eskom and many other entities across government and of course the private sector.”
De Ruyter was Eskom’s 13th CEO in 10 years and his replacement is yet to be appointed.
“Acting GCE arrangements are being finalised with the shareholder Minister and will be communicated shortly,” said Eskom on Wednesday. DM