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Eskom CFO Calib Cassim steps into De Ruyter’s shoes as interim CEO amid political storm

Eskom CFO Calib Cassim steps into De Ruyter’s shoes as interim CEO amid political storm
Eskom Group CFO Calib Cassim (pictured) will serve as interim CEO following André De Ruyter immediate exit. (Photo: Gallo Images / Business Day / Freddy Mavunda)

Just over a day after former Eskom CEO André De Ruyter’s immediate exit, Eskom announced that Cassim, who has been Eskom’s Chief Financial Officer since 2018, would take over in an acting capacity.

Less than a day after former Eskom CEO André De Ruyter’s explosive interview with eNCA aired on Tuesday night, where he made claims of political interference and systemic corruption at Eskom, the parastatal entity announced that de Ruyter was “released from his position with immediate effect.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: “André de Ruyter released from Eskom ‘with immediate effect’ following explosive interview

De Ruyter initially resigned in December 2022 and was due to leave his job at the end of March. Eskom announced his immediate departure on Wednesday evening after De Ruyter said it appeared that cabinet members were aware of and accepted widespread corruption at Eskom.

On Friday morning, Eskom announced that Calib Cassim, who has been CFO for Eskom for over five years, (acting CFO in 2017, and CFO in 2018), was appointed “interim” CEO of Eskom with immediate effect.

In a statement, Eskom said of Cassim, “with over 20 years of service in Eskom, his qualifications and extensive experience have provided Mr Cassim with a deep understanding and appreciation of the Eskom business and the electricity industry, especially regarding the challenges facing the financing of operations and future expansion of the industry.”

Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said that Cassim, who is a registered Chartered Accountant (SA) and holds a Master’s degree in Business Leadership (MBL), “has nothing to say at this point, and will not be doing any interviews for a while.”

ANC guns for de Ruyter

On Thursday, ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula challenged de Ruyter to produce evidence for his claims of corruption, saying that the ANC rejected the former CEO’s “unfortunate, irresponsible and baseless claims of alleged political meddling and corruption” at Eskom.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “‘We challenge you’ – ANC’s Fikile Mbalula calls on André de Ruyter to provide evidence for ‘baseless’ corruption claims at Eskom

In response to the ANC government’s stance against De Ruyter, civil society coalition Defend Our Democracy said in a statement: “it is troubling that instead of dealing with the substance of de Ruyter’s startling interview — in particular the damning allegations of ongoing corruption and capture in the energy sector — some South African politicians have instead attacked De Ruyter”.

What could have been an opportunity for uncovering alleged corruption and capture, instead became an opportunity to close political ranks in a bid to protect the image of the governing party.”

Karam Singh, Executive Director at Corruption Watch, told Daily Maverick with regard to De Ruyter’s allegations, “what is critical is that any allegations of corruption are investigated”.

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

“We know that even under section 34 of the Preccca Act there is a duty on those in authority to report corruption over R100,000 a relatively small threshold given the type of industrial looting that has been going on at Eskom,” said Singh.

In response to Mbalula’s reiteration of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan’s comment to TimesLIVE on Wednesday, that CEOs “should not be involved in open political debates or assertions”, Defend our Democracy said, “hinting that De Ruyter should not have spoken out because his views waded into the political arena, ignores that the pervading political culture in South Africa cannot be separated from the crisis the country faces”.

“Presumably, Mr De Ruyter has been in regular contact with the Hawks and others tasked with investigating corruption at Eskom and has provided cooperation and information to ongoing investigations,” said Singh.

National Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Thandi Mbambo told Daily Maverick on Friday, 24 February, that while they have a number of corruption cases from Eskom under investigation, there are none where De Ruyter specifically was a complainant (at this time), “unless if he reported via his security officers.”

Defend our Democracy called on De Ruyter to take his information of alleged corruption and suspected mafia networks to the Hawks. 

“While his interview does make mention of sharing information with law enforcement agencies, it remains unclear if high-level political corruption was reported, as should have been done, irrespective of the actual or perceived incompetencies of the state in investigating and prosecuting corruption,” the organisation said in a statement.

“As Mr De Ruyter transitions from being an official to being a private person, it is important that he is provided with the necessary protections required by whistleblowers, noting that there has already been an attempt to poison him,” said Singh. 

“It is really unfortunate that he has become a target of politicians who seek to muddy waters and deflect from the damning allegations,” Singh added, “A typical case of vilifying the messenger to deflect from the message. We may find some of Mr De Ruyter’s political sensibilities objectionable, but his allegations of corruption must be distinguished from what we may think about him or the challenges of his tenure while at the helm at Eskom.”

De Ruyter has not replied to Daily Maveick’s inquiry if he has taken his allegations forward at this time.

Defend Our Democracy also called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to outline how a new CEO will be insulated from political attacks and what the government will be doing to ensure the allegations de Ruyter made are investigated.

“As the public now faces an over 18% electricity tariff increase, and in light of ongoing Stage 6 load shedding, we call on government, and the governing party, to for once, put aside vitriolic politics and simply fix the mess that is to a large extent of their own making.” 

The dramatic leadership developments took place amid heightened rolling blackouts and grid failures this week. South Africa has not had one day without rolling blackouts so far this year. 

Track the full lineup of rolling blackouts since 2015 on the Outlier . DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • James Francis says:

    So, is he a pragmatist or an eater? If neither, he’ll be fired by June.

  • Jon Quirk says:

    Why would a person be appointed the CEO of Eskom, considering he was first appointed, in the Zuma/Koko Aug 2017 time-line, as CFO? He either must have been incompetent and somehow was unaware of the then seething corruption and fraud, or, as himself a beneficiary of cadre deployment, been conveniently “looking the other way”.

  • Hermann Funk says:

    If de Ruyter knew, surely so should he.

  • sakkielearmonth says:

    Eskom said of Cassim”With over 20 years experience in Eskom, Mr Cassim clearly has a deep understanding and appreciation of the Eskom Business”
    ie:sabotage, syndicated crime (transport, delivery of coal, assasination), helping ANC cadre to eat a bit

  • Rory Macnamara says:

    be careful what you wish for Mbulula. you know corruption exists in EsDom, you know that there has been political interference, (chat to Mantashe and Mbeki) but yes, more dung will hit the fan in the next few months, mark my words. the ANC just cannot accept they have screwed up this country and its people. Mgulula, need proof, look around you, look at when you were Transport minister. we are still waiing for the solutions you were banding about. look at the three fingers pointing at you and your cabinet chums before taking on a gentleman of De Ruyter’s experience and knowledge. SHAMEFUL!

  • William Kelly says:

    I thought Gweezy said we needed an engineer?!? Doesn’t Gweezy get what Gweezy wants? The world has gone crazy. Still I suppose it is only T-335 days for Gweezy to deliver on his 6 to 12 month claim to fix load shedding…

  • Chris 123 says:

    Heads up, if you do a proper job don’t drink the coffee, if you do nothing like the rest of them you’ll be fine 😉

  • virginia crawford says:

    Twenty years in Eskom and unaware of the corruption. Blind or compromised?

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    I have to agree with most of the comments here – no one believes for a second that the new CEO is reliable, honest or capable of fixing Eskom….it’s a pity he has already been tarnished with the corrupt ANC brush. Well, time will tell…I , for one, will not be holding my breathe!

  • André Pelser says:

    Just a place keeper, the criminals are in control

  • Joe Irwin says:

    Even if the ANC lose the national election and are not part of a governing coalition, they will still be in control. The criminals are entrenched throughout every SOE and will sabotage every effort to rectify the damage they have caused.

  • Patterson Alan John says:

    Firstly, I take my hat off to Mr. De Ruyter for his service to the public as he fought every obstacle, yet obstinately persevered with his attempt to make a difference. Unfortunately, with the multitude of obstacles placed in his way by the ANC cadres, it was like pushing shit uphill with a pointed stick, but he gallantly tried.
    Secondly, please get out of the country as soon as possible. The ANC hit men have already been briefed. Your life is not worth sacrificing for this bunch of scoundrels.
    Next, multi-billions of Rand are owed to Eskom by bankrupt municipalities run by the ANC cadres, none of which will ever be paid, and nothing will be paid in the future, but the taxpayer now hands over R200+ billion to prop up Eskom, with more billions to prop up municipalities! And where did the money go in the first place? And where is it going now?
    Finally, so much for any action after the massive cost of the Zondo Commission. Ramaphosa is missing in action and has deserted his post. The wasteland of South Africa will sink ever lower.

  • Paul Savage says:

    And still no comment from the deaf Squirrel. Can you imagine Ramaphosa sitting down with Annika Larsen and conducting an hour long interview in which the hard questions were asked? He is such a weak leader, never brave enough to face the press, explain, take the people of South Africa into his confidence. He is pathetic.

  • Trevor Pope says:

    You can be sure that there is evidence for all the allegations made by De Ruiter in the files at the legal department of Eskom. There will be case numbers too. Expect frantic efforts by the ANC and those implicated to suppress this.

  • Alison Weston says:

    All the comments below are superb and hit the nail on the head. If the new CEO was the financial director he surely should be investigated and charged for dereliction of duty for permitting the stealing that has been rampant for years.

  • Ian Malcolm King says:

    Ramaphosa and Mantasha have moved Cassim( read ANC Cadre) into place to do their and the Eskom boards bidding. Mainly financial flows. This is similar to Jacob Zuma’s , Dez van Rooyen,s Minister of finance appointment. De Rhuyter was an independent appointment and thinker and was not as pliable as Cassim will be. Cassim will be there until he has undone all the critical forensic work De Rhuyter has started. Only then will they appoint a new CEO, if anyone can be found, to take up “The Poisoned Chalice “. Dark times to continue until 2024 when a coalition will have to sort this mess out!!

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