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Clock ticking on ANC charges against ex-Eskom CEO as party says it can’t act on rumours

Clock ticking on ANC charges against ex-Eskom CEO as party says it can’t act on rumours
Former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter. (Photo: Gallo Images / Rapport / Deon Raath) | The Kusile coal-fired power station in Delmas, Mpumalanga. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The political sound and fury that erupted after ex-Eskom CEO André de Ruyter’s statement on continued looting at the power utility – with political connectivity – is being walked back. Except the line that, without De Ruyter going to the police, no steps can be taken.

The governing ANC’s seven-day deadline for former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter to lay charges with the police or face being charged himself, has come to an end. Or, if you’re counting in working days, ends this weekend.

Staying off the initial talk of ideological attacks and right-wing political agendas on 23 February, the ANC National Working Committee (NWC) – the structure in charge of the governing party’s day-to-day running – on Monday,27 February reiterated that De Ruyter would be charged if he has not gone to the police by the deadline “to allow law enforcement agencies to investigate, and where appropriate, to prosecute those who have a case to answer, including any ANC members or public representatives…”

Since that interview on eNCA, info on cartels – and politicians – operating at Eskom have emerged, as revealed by Daily Maverick’s Kevin Bloom. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Introducing the four crime cartels that have brought Eskom and South Africa to their knees

On Tuesday, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, in an interview with Newzroom Afrika, acknowledged that De Ruyter had spoken to him about the corruption. But, as minister, he could not act on “allusions around individuals”, “possible suspicions” or rumours.

Watch the clip below:

 

“De Ruyter should go to the police with details so the legal processes can unfold. “If he has the evidence, the Hawks are waiting for him,” Gordhan told Newzroom Afrika.

On Wednesday, the Presidency followed suit:

“The President does not respond to rumours and generic suggestion,” said presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya in a livestreamed briefing , adding, after repeated questioning: 

“I struggle to understand the back and forth. André de Ruyter goes to a police station to lay a charge… If the SAPS do not take it up, then the President has a case to take to the police minister…”

Magwenya said everyone knew “what André (de Ruyter) has said is nothing new to the extent there is corruption”, and already security agencies were at Eskom in the form of an investigative task team through NatJoints (National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure) … “they are dealing with every aspect of wrongdoing”.

NatJoints brings together spooks, soldiers and police in a structure not established in law or regulations and that does not account publicly, not even to Parliament.

On Thursday, Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele added his call to De Ruyter to go to the police, because even if these allegations had been made to Gordhan, they needed to be dealt with by “appropriate” structures – law enforcement.

“To be honest with you, we take seriously what the CEO has raised. But we also argue that a CEO can do better, because a CEO is put in a position of power to deal with these issues…”

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

Like Gordhan on Tuesday, Gungubele said he had been at the sharp end of allegations and rumours, none of which were substantiated. It could not be that the “President must run” after rumours, the minister added.

Thus the need for De Ruyter to go to the police, effectively turning him into something of a whistle-blower, even as it publicly emerged that there are already active investigations into – depending on who is asked – scores or thousands of dockets.

Effectively, it seems what stung were the un-PC political statements implicating the governing party, again, in dodgy dealings, and not so much the corruption itself.

State Capture-style dismissiveness

The official insistence that nothing could be done unless and until charges were laid with police is a nod to legal compliance. Yet it echoes ministers and MPs during the State Capture years dismissing what was public as rumours – at least until the 2017 #GuptaLeaks emails.

And the Zondo State Capture commission, in both testimony and final reports, is insightful of such attitudes. 

This includes ex-National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete testifying “the fact that the NEC was told something, in fact, just gives it the status of a rumour”, after the now Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula told the governing party’s National Executive Committee in 2011 how the Guptas had congratulated him on becoming minister before he even knew about the appointment.

Or the ex-chairperson of Parliament’s spending watchdog, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Themba Godi, testifying:

“In a system where one political party dominates, the extent to which oversight will be effective depends on the internal dynamics of that party.”

Or Zukiswa Rantho, the now ex-ANC MP who chaired the parliamentary Eskom State Capture inquiry, testifying how, despite an institutional directive to probe State Capture, “it was a great risk we were taking as there was a divided caucus…”

Read more in Daily Maverick: “When politics collides with constitutional responsibilities of oversight — and billions are looted

President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledged initial inertia in his testimony in April 2021: 

“That there was not much movement, we concede. When it was clear the evidence was just accumulated, the thinking was to investigate them through the law enforcement agencies… In the end, the parliamentary track was activated.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Ramaphosa pushes party line in parliamentary oversight — but Zondo isn’t buying it

The State Capture report says billions of rands could have been saved if Parliament had acted earlier. By March 2016, if not already by 2013, “no sensible Member of Parliament could have disputed that there were serious allegations…”

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Parliament between the cracks of political will and constitutional duties – must do better

It is against this backdrop – and the rotational power cuts that in 2023 have so far left homes and businesses without power for up to 10 hours every day – that De Ruyter’s statements come. 

On Thursday, in the parliamentary mini debate on the electricity National State of Disaster and yet-to-be-appointed electricity minister, the ANC’s public enterprises committee chairperson, Khaya Magaxa, said De Ruyter’s claims would not be responded to “until he reported to the police, including accounting to the same portfolio committees”.

Earlier, opposition speakers in this ACDP-sponsored discussion raised concern about ongoing corruption at Eskom, and how this could be exacerbated during a state of disaster similar to the Covid lockdown personal protective equipment tender scandals.

On Wednesday, Magaxa had wanted to invite “the outgoing” De Ruyter to the public enterprises committee to tell MPs about his statements, when fellow ANC MP, Carol Phiri, said she had “read somewhere” that the CEO was gone, asking whether calling De Ruyter now was not exceeding the committee’s mandate as “we are not an inquiry”.

Watch the meeting below: 

Magaxa was adamant that the committee could call anyone, any time, “Whether he’s left or not, we will have to call him…” 

It remains to be seen whether that happens – and what transpires about the claims of sustained, orchestrated and cartel-driven corruption at Eskom during these times of rolling blackouts. DM

Gallery

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  • Elmarie Dennis says:

    No anc the president brigadier and commissioner was briefed on corruption at Eskom. Every time someone was arrested they were let free the very next day. What a disgrace. Stop protecting yourself with your ignorance. The truth hurts. Anyone sabotaging our economy should be up for treason.

    • Antoine van Gelder says:

      As many governments in South Africa have learnt: It’s great when you control the police!

      A complaint is laid and you just have to exert the smallest pressure to ensure nothing is done about the complaint.

      Then, when the complaint becomes public you can make your eyes wide and say:

      “Well surely if he had made a formal complaint something would have been done, but nothing was done, therefore no complaint was laid so we insist that you make a formal complaint instead of spreading these baseless allegations!”

      The ghosts of the National Party and British Colonial Administration must be so proud to have their intellectual legacy live on.

  • Jon Quirk says:

    The ANC has been in charge for every single year, hour, minute second of thee period, over a period approximating 25 years, during which Eskom has literally disintegrated before an incredulous countries eyes. A period when deployees have been ever-extending their incompetent mitts ever tighter around the decaying corpse and as the hyenas within the self-same organisation, the ANC, have picked it clean, by stealing, at the rate, according to the last CEO (and clearly the first that the ANC could not fully control) at the rate of R1 billion a year.

    Lest we believe this is the full extent of the losses, let us remind ourselves that, back in the halcyon days around the year 2000, before Thabo Mbeki so disastrously misread the situation, Eskom used to return to it’s shareholder, the Government (effectively all taxpayers) meaningful dividends year after year.

    And the ANC, through it’s deployed executives, deployed Board, and of course it’s role as sole shareholder, has been solely in charge.

    Yet now our President, is seemingly so incompetent, and remember he was given special responsibilities to resolve the Eskom issues by Jacob Zuma some seven/eight years ago, and despite Zondo spelling it out in great detail whilst Ramaphosa, representing accused number 1 as he himself put it, was in the witness box, he now can only act on the corruption, fraud and depravity, when the details in du Ruyter’s already deposed affidavit, are further spelt out in a police station, where the competence levels, as anyone who has been the victim of a crime can attest to, is eroded to an even lower rock bottom, on facts and certainties, even if he only had the smallest shared of ability and intelligence, he ought to know by heart – IF he had attended to the Eskom issues as he was so deployed to do back in 2015.

    Yet Ramaphosa STILL cannot act against his known corrupt cabinet colleagues, his known corrupt ANC fellow senior members, and cannot even act against the very cadre deployment policy that has brought the Eskom house crashing down!

    Utterly, utterly astounding !!

  • Hiram C Potts says:

    Govt. officials talking out of their backsides once again, incl. our spineless President.
    From an article in News 24 this AM – it transpires that ADR had already reported his findings to national police commissioner Gen. Masemola & an investigation is already underway.

    Everyone from comrade Gordhan up & down the chain of command/corruption is clearly fully briefed.
    Their knee-jerk reaction is so predictable & hilarious to watch. Left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, except when it comes to sharing the loot.

  • I hope ADR has very much gone. What can these so called committees do? The police and the Hawks are hollowed out carcasses. Do they really think ADR is stupid and would pitch up to follow “correct procedure”. What a joke.
    I also heard that Cahora Bassa was sabotaged by the EFF? @DM not sure if this is nonsense or true? Considering CB is (was) a supplier of electricity to SA, this might align to the thoughts of the journalist (27th Feb) on how it may not be the ANC, but those who have the mindset of “state owns everything, people own nothing”
    I’d love somebody who knows more about the CB saga, to enlighten me.

  • Hermann Funk says:

    There is no need for further lengthy discussions. The ANC is a gangster party, run by political thugs.

  • Jo Van says:

    As Zapiro’s cartoon today indicates, these ANC scoundrels are very efficient and focussed when it comes to stealing money but they have no motivation or appetite for stopping corruption as it would cut off the flow of their ill-gotten gains. When confronted about it, they fumble and present excuses suggesting they are powerless as they can’t respond to rumours. They just don’t get it that they are responsible and accountable for the state of Eskom and that they should be put on trial with the criminals – if ever the Hawks and the NPA wake up out of their comfortable slumber and bring the criminals to book.

  • Rory Macnamara says:

    The political head of SOE’s was briefed by the CEO. he chose to do nothing. responsibility rest 100% with Gordhan. CEO De Ruyter reported to his political heads as it is a political matter. the ANC has no right to demand anything from de Ruyter but should be demanding from Gordhan!

  • Bryan Shepstone says:

    Cyril All-talk-and-no-Action Ramaphosa…

  • Grumpy Old Man says:

    According to News24 the announcement of the Cabinet reshuffle has been delayed because our President is suffering a cold! I am far less inclined to point blame at CR as I am Tim Cohen of the DM. Tim; for heavens sake, it must be obvious to you that CR is petrified of announcing his new Cabinet whilst you are yet to expose the two ‘excessively corrupt’ Eskom Ministers. Furthermore (& if it’s not to much trouble) could you please pop down to the nearest Police Station & open cases against them? This is a perfectly reasonable expectation since you seemingly know more about the criminals in SA Inc’s Executive team then the CEO who has National Intelligence reporting directly to his Office. Also, the last time our CEO tried to report a case of his own this didn’t go quite as well as he might have reasonably expected. Gift of the Givers fills in many of the gaps that Govt is required to perform I can’t see why the DM team can’t pull its weight to the same extent.

  • Neil Parker says:

    “… without De Ruyter going to the police, no steps can be taken”.

    So you complain to the police about an attempt to poison you and they send along investigators who don’t know what cyanide is ??

    Anyway de Ruyter did brief a police brigadier, the police commissioner and the president’s advisor on Eskom corruption. What happened thereafter – absolutely didly squat!? Just feigned shock and surprise from all of the above.

  • James Francis says:

    Expecting the ANC to act on corruption is like asking drug dealers to run a rehab clinic. De Ruyter simply put to words what we’ve been suspecting for a long time. If you still vote for the ANC next year, you are voting for a criminal organisation funded by gangsters and the Russians.

  • Lisbeth Scalabrini says:

    From News24 this morning.
    Former Eskom chief executive André de Ruyter personally briefed the highest-ranking police official in the country – national police commissioner General Fannie Masemola – on allegations of corruption at Eskom around syndicates operating in Mpumalanga and the alleged involvement of two senior ANC government officials.

  • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

    We now hear from News 24 that de Ruyter actually spoke to police Brigadier and the current Commissioner about the allegations as we also hear that the ANC has served him with papers. One wonders what is the legal nature of the papers that were served to him in the political theatre regarding Eskom whilst the reality is that the country has been plunged into darkness by the ANC. If the ANC has guts it must go to a police station and lay charges in terms of PRECA rather than issuing statements of threats or being told that about skokiaan legal papers that have been served on de Ruyter. The fact that a MInister has admitted of being informed of these criminal activities and further admits of having done nothing about them for the nebulous reasons he is famous for proffering on anything he is asked, the Commissioner of Police who has to respond and the Brigadier, it is is very rich for the ANC to plumb new depths in its response to issues. The fact
    that de Ruyter was measured in his interview with regard to legal consequences tells you about a legal person who is not a fool but who will be able to stand his ground. Now we know that the matter was reported to the police to brass and we hope that the ANC will act with similar venom for accountability including the cheque collectors in the adult day care centre who think with their stomachs. The despicable MPs who fear to hold the executive to account to keep their jobs.

  • Allan Wolman Wolman says:

    The most frightening thing after reading the report on the Eskom cartels the power wielded will not capitulate as many are predicting come 2024. If the cartels can control such power and wealth the fixing and rigging of an election will be childsplay for these dons.

  • Jono W says:

    Why does Soweto get way less loadsheddong than all the other areas in the country?
    No loadsheddong ons stages 1; 2 or 3. Only once a day on stage 4 and only twice on all other stages, including stage 8.
    This can’t be right……..

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    As tax and rate paying members of the public who have rights….there is nothing stopping us from forming an organisation and charging the Minister of Energy with :
    A) treason
    B) theft
    C) racism
    D) complicit criminal activity
    E) corruption
    F) lying under oath
    G) lack of Corporate responsibility
    H) Collusion with a foreign power
    I’m in…anyone care to join me?

  • William Dryden says:

    As far as I am concerned the Zondo commission proved that there was corruption within the ruling party especially Eskom, and named names, now Gwede Mantashe basically states that De Ruyter has to prove that there is corruption within the ruling party. De Ruyter did what he was supposed to do, He reported it to the Minister in charge of SOE’s Pravin Gordhan who did nothing. That says it all.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    Um, according to Andre de Reuter the police are simply letting known culprits go. Against that backdrop what on earth is the point of his going to the police. It is simply laughable to suggest that this is the course of action he should be taking after all the time you’ve had to crack down on the problem mr gordhan.

  • Bev Lloyd says:

    Where is proof that CR laid a criminal charge of theft? Where is CR’s proof that he was paid days before he received monies from the so-called purchaser of a bull?

  • Dragon Slayer says:

    I am not a lawyer but I understand that criminal action success requires undisputable hard evidence. Any reasonable doubt results in dismissal of charged. Given the ineptitude at best, compromised more likely, of the majority of SAPS and NPA to find and curate evidence the criminals, defended by ‘real’ attorneys and advocates are guaranteed to walk. The government will crow vindication.
    The only way to hold this thieving bunch of criminals we call a government to account would be civil action where ‘balance of probability’ is considered as proof.
    Civil action probably would need to be launched by organisations like OUTA, Corruption Watch, etc., Organisation can then appoint capable people to do proper forensic investigations and act against implicated individuals and everyone in their food-chain. Acting against individuals will also ensure that they can’t use tax-payers money for a Stalingrad defence.

  • Gerrit Marais says:

    With reference to the interviews with Gordan et al, I just wish the journalists would have more balls, get the guy into a corner and do not let him go until he speaks up (probably not) or is so obviously compromised that any further discussion would be meaningless. Or, are these interviews set up within parameters that by default leave them as just a tick-box exercise?

  • Allan Thomson says:

    Of course this will never get to court because then the truth presented will expose all. The charges laid by Eskom during Ruiters time were not investigated and resolved. Gordhans wringing hands and pleas of ignorance in his tax payer paid mansion powered by generators is treason. The parties involved keep on eating at the trough. The charges are there to intimidate and silence. The truth is they cannot prosecute themselves. Vote them out and then call them to account and change their Italian suits for orange jump suits and 40 year sentences.

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