South Africa

POWER CRISIS

De Ruyter: Gordhan and national security adviser knew about top politicians’ links to Eskom rent-seeking

De Ruyter: Gordhan and national security adviser knew about top politicians’ links to Eskom rent-seeking
Illustrative image | Sources: Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images) | Former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter. (Photo: Gallo Images / Phil Magakoe) | Headquarters of Eskom, Megawatt Park, northern Johannesburg. (Photo: Scott Smith / eNCA)

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan emerges as a scared and immobilised man in André de Ruyter’s tell-all memoir.

As Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan is due to appear before Parliament to answer questions about corruption at Eskom, former Eskom boss André de Ruyter has set the cat among the pigeons.  

On Page 282 of his book, Truth to Power: My Three Years Inside Eskom, he says both Gordhan and the national security adviser, Sydney Mufamadi, knew that two high-ranking politicians had links to cartels that extract more than R1-billion from Eskom every month.   

“In the vacant office of the Eskom chairman, I told Gordhan and Mufamadi what the investigators had unearthed, but paused before dropping the biggest bombshell — the fact that two high-ranking politicians had been implicated,” he writes. 

“‘Can I name them?’ I asked Gordhan, accompanied by one of his advisers. The minister indicated I should go ahead.

“I expected him to be shocked, but instead his reaction surprised me. Gordhan looked over at Mufamadi and said, ‘Well, I guess it was inevitable that it would come out.’ They had known or suspected all along,” writes De Ruyter. 

Earlier this month, De Ruyter calculated that rent extraction, corruption, and procurement patronage were still costing Eskom R1-billion a month, even though the high State Capture period is widely judged to be behind the utility. His analysis suggests that it hasn’t ended but has multiplied exponentially. In the book, released this week, he details the funds lost to coal shrinkage (where expensive coal is swapped for discarded coal), procurement corruption, maintenance contracts and fuel oil theft. 

Read the book extract: André de Ruyter’s Truth to Power The end of days

De Ruyter initiated a private investigation when scores of cases lodged with the police went nowhere. He writes that as a result, the National Prosecuting Authority and the police have started investigations, some charges have been laid and certain cases are now before the courts. (See Kevin Bloom’s report here and Vincent Cruywagen’s latest report here.) 

Gordhan emerges throughout the book as a moral but now worn-out minister. In one scene, De Ruyter visits Gordhan at his home to brief him on the corruption and sabotage that he calculates is responsible for between one and two stages of load shedding. Gordhan is so nervous that he takes away De Ruyter’s phone and puts it near a television that he puts on high volume — as if he fears his home is bugged.  

A frayed relationship

Either fear or political loyalty immobilises him from acting to secure greater energy security through political cover for Eskom’s transition and reform. A significant theme of De Ruyter’s book is how ANC politics is consistently ranked above national concerns in the management of Eskom and broader energy policy. While the two men initially enjoyed a common agenda to reform Eskom, that relationship had frayed by the end of De Ruyter’s tenure earlier this year. 

“He told me I should listen more and speak less. I was quite taken aback,” writes De Ruyter. 

When De Ruyter’s hardball interview with journalist Annika Larsen aired on e.tv, first revealing the existence of several cartels looting Eskom, Gordhan hit back. He said De Ruyter had spent time swanning about overseas rather than walking the Eskom power plants. The former CEO’s book is a compendium of power plant visits. He witnesses a wasteland of breakdowns caused by incompetence or sabotage.  

This week, South Africa surpassed the total load shedding recorded for all of 2022, and it’s not even halfway through the year. There have been more Stage 6 power cuts in the first 5½ months of 2023 than in any other complete year. The country is buckling under the weight. On Thursday, Eskom will brief the government on its winter outlook.  

On Tuesday, Eskom said: “The risk of a national blackout, while inherent to the operation of an extensive power system, has an extremely low likelihood of materialising, given the implementation of several control measures, including load shedding.” 

Acting CEO Calib Cassim said he was not losing sleep in fear of a grid collapse. DM 

André de Ruyter’s Truth to Power: My Three Years Inside Eskom, Penguin, Random House, is on sale now.

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  • rmrobinson says:

    Thank heavens for BEE or BBBBBEEEEE or whatever it is called now.

  • rmrobinson says:

    One is really comforted that Afrikaners and, in fact, non-Africans have been and are being, worked out of Eskom. I read in an article on IOL, written by Bongani Hans, published on 15 May 2023, that Eskom may implement power cuts of up to 32 hours. We could never have managed this feat. The world stands by to applaud the successes of the ANC and African governance.

  • Erik van Heerden says:

    It is getting worse and worse each year… I really want to, but I honestly can not see any positive outcome for Eskom with the corrupt ANC government in charge…
    South Africa is heading towards disaster.

    • Jane Crankshaw says:

      The alternative that is currently on the cards thanks to the uneducated voter numbers is even more scary!

    • Nico Brandt says:

      Heading? We have surpassed disaster stage!

    • Roelf Pretorius says:

      I agree with you Erik. Today, with the disingenious testimony of Pravin Gordhan in front of the parliamentary committee, that much became clear. Even he is putting the ANC before solutions, because if he did not, he would not have had the attitude that he expressed. The very notion that De Ruyter’s allegations amounted to “swartgevaar” tactics in the old apartheid mould is a clear indication that not only does he know who De Ruyter referred to, but also that the allegations is condemning of the ANC; I have learnt that when the ANC today larks back to old apartheid accusations, then it is to divert the attention from the guilt of the ANC, and that they don’t have any other defense. I think we must put our hands in our pockets and start to generate our own electricity. That is our only hope.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    Sh*t. Vote DA.

    • Roy Haines says:

      My Xhosa domestic worker was a staunch ANC supporter, but no longer. However, I can’t see her and her like voting DA, but maybe just maybe if Steenhuizen can pull his ‘moonshot’ programme together this would provide an acceptable alternative, but the DA must learn to share.

      • R S says:

        People have this incorrect believe that the DA is “arrogant” and that the DA is “selfish”. The DA works from the simple idea that in coalitions in a democracy, the biggest party gets the most and best positions. They thoroughly follow through with this by supporting the IFP in KZN and letting them lead and the DA follows. I can’t believe people don’t know this.

        • Roelf Pretorius says:

          Read Michael Beaumont’s book “The Accidental Mayor” to see what the DA’s real attitude is toward other political parties and why these coalition agreements REALLY fail, then you will have a better idea on why so many people agree that the DA is arrogant. I also had the same experience with the DA leadership – and that was 20 years earlier; the attitude of the leaders was one of the reasons why I left the DA in the end.

        • I agree Rowan, all these criticisms of the DA, I’m not sure that people read much, they just like to complain

      • Paddy Ross says:

        The DA needs to respect other members of a coalition but is pie in the sky to suggest that political parties with just a few seats should have equal power with the party with the majority of seats in that coalition. For a team to function effectively, there has to be a leader.

        • Roelf Pretorius says:

          Sure – but in a coalition every decision must satisfy the voters of ALL the coalition member parties. Herman Mashaba was able to run a successful coalition in Johannesburg because he was able to do this in the right way. In a coalition it works with consultation with ALL partners, no matter how big or how small they are, and decisions are only taken once adjustments have been made that ALL coalition partners agree with. That is unfortunately not how the DA wants to work, and that is why these coalitions where they are involved are failing one by one. Until now the coalition in Nelson Mandela Bay is successful precisely because Retief Odendaal is willing to work with consensus. Of course the consensus can’t really be reached at national level for either municipal or provincial level, because it has to be applied by representatives at that level, not by national leaders. There has already been various ConCourt decisions specifying that public representatives have to give priority to what the voters want or need above what the party wants. And thus national leaders and politics can’ dominate at other levels of government. I don’t see any willingness in the DA at national level to respect the stipulations of the Constitution in that sense.

          • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

            @roelf as I’ve said elsewhere: Forget perfection, it doesn’t exist.

            The only sensible strategy is to vote for the biggest opposition party better than the ANC. That is without question the DA – and by a country mile I should add.

            If Herman Mashaba and ActionSA really want to put ZA first the only sensible strategy is for ActionSA to merge with the DA to get rid of the ANC.

            The same rationale applies to all parties. As voters we should be encouraging this by voting for the DA to get rid of smaller opposition fragmenting parties.

            Once the ANC is gone, then parties can fuss and bicker over the small stuff to their hearts’ content.

            Is the DA perfect? No. Is it better? Hell yes.

  • M P says:

    Time to get out. Pack your bags, Aus, UK and Canada are calling. Is the better “lifestyle” still worth it in SA? More than half the day without power, infrastructure crumbling and rampant corruption.

    Sentiment has turned very quickly, big business is astonishingly quiet. The writing is on the wall. This country is in an uncontrollable downward spiral. As one friend said “we need the country to break before it gets better” I’m not sticking around with my family to see that happen.

    • Jane Crankshaw says:

      Big Business is quiet in its verbal castigation but have you seen the markets? Local share prices collapsing says it all!

      • Iam Fedup says:

        They don’t have the balls, Jane Crankshaw, and as such are quiet collaborators. Hannah Ahrend: All that is required for the triumph of evil is that good men – and women – stay silent. It was true in the 1930s and remains true today.

    • Hermann Funk says:

      One of the reasons that we are deep in kak, many South Africans have always considered leaving the easier option than standing up for what is right.

      • johanw773 says:

        This is true to a certain extent Hermann. But what actually happened was that those of us that stayed locked ourselves behind our security fences and hoped to be left alone, fearful of being called racists and other insults should we call out the ANC thugs. This apathetic attitude has now caught up with us. And still television and some printed media is going after De Ruyter for so called misbehavior while in office, instead of after the Eskom cabal.

        • Roelf Pretorius says:

          Yes, and it is sometimes motivated by disingenious politicians like Pravin Gordhan. No, the answer is not to run away. Let us all start to work together to oust the ANC, because that is the problem. Once the ANC is not in office any more we can start to work towards solutions. And a number of interesting political options are coming into being currently – ActionSA, Rize Mzansi, BOSA, independents, to name but a few.

      • Lindsay.wanliss says:

        I don’t think the numbers support your argument. Wikipedia tells me that 175,000 emigrated since 2010. More than 10,000,000 voted for the ANC in the last election.

        • Georg Scharf Scharf says:

          10,000,000 brainwashed, education deficient, black on white racists in South Africa. Motivated with the smell of money. That is enough reason for any non-ANC person to consider emigration. The figure of 175 000 is much more because (like many of my friends, colleagues family’s children, the go and then just shut -up over their emigrating). Judging by my figures it is much much more that 175,000. This is a propaganda figure for disinformation with the ANC”s compliments to keeps those of us who cannot immigrate, for what ever reasons, to console ourselves. Hell, I once walk in London Strand, and every body was speaking Afrikaans. One even said “ag kak man” (confirming what a delightful language Afrikaans is). I have also found that every European also understands “f@koff” in Afirkaans.

    • Matsobane Monama says:

      Australia is not calling. They don’t want SAcans bringing bad habits in their country.

      • M P says:

        You’re right – they don’t want the uneducated, unethical or corrupt. I’m referring to the hard working professionals who add to the economy and society overall.

    • rmrobinson says:

      It is breaking but it will not get better. Getting better is not the Africa way.

  • James Miller says:

    “ANC politics is consistently ranked above national concerns”. This is at the heart of our problems, and the thread that runs through so many wrong, and otherwise inexplicable, decisions made by this ANC cabal. eg. Siding with Russia at the expense much more valuable, not to mention moral, relationships. A ruling party with the character of the ANC, and control of the military, is unlikely to give up power in the event of a lost election. They’ll flaunt the consequences of international disapproval, much like Iran and North Korea, clinging to power at the expense of the populace. Providing arms to Russia may not be the only thing we have in common with those paragons of human rights.

  • Ian McGill says:

    The cost of David Mabuza’s support of Cyril is to let the looting at Eskom alone. That’s why Ace has been hounded out instead. I dare say DM gets a slice of billions that Eskom pays out in Mpumalanga. That would explain the inertia shown by SAPS and Scorpions, too close to the centre of power. Same goes for uncle Gwede. What a bunch of crooks!

  • Jimbo Smith says:

    In any functioning democracy Mr Ghordan would have been fired for this catastrophic failure to act decisively on the information provided to him. Not in SA; ZERO consequences for corruption, fraud and breathtaking incompetence. What is the definition of treason?

    • tamrynel says:

      I’ve been wondering the same. At what point is this treason?
      Cele should’ve been out of a job after the KZN riots. Accountability and maintenance are two words that are foreign to our government.

  • sandradfebruary says:

    Cry, the beloved country.

  • Dou Pienaar says:

    I am perpetually fascinated by how gullible and naive we as the ‘new victims’ in South Africa are. It is a well reported fact that Cyril Ramaphosa himself, years ago, told us exactly what he and his ANC was going to do to us, when he used the fable of the ‘Frog being boiled (Insidiously) in the pot’. Just as he promised, we now realize that we are being cooked alive and yet we have endless reporting and useless debates about just how hopeless our situation is yet we do not get, and stand together effectively to collectively ‘push back’ in the interest of all reasonable and rational South Africans. This in my opinion includes those who believe that the 2024 election will be a turning point for the better and that the ANC will loose its ability to govern us. We better wake up, those invested in the ‘indiscriminate milking of the state’ have way too much to loose to allow for legal and fair elections. We would be naive to believe that the Russians are only giving the ANC party money for their election campaign, they are surely also assisting them in just how to steal the election too and how to attempt to stay in power at all cost. At the risk of appearing completely cynical, I suggest that if we have any doubts about that reality we better look at the rest of Africa and the messed up world for that matter. It is time all those in SA that believes in some sane future for this country gets together and reclaim the future of our children whatever we need to do.

    • harrypoortman001 says:

      Fully agree. With all the proof on many tables and no action taken, nor legal or politically, means nothing will change unless….the “unless” is the citizens of SA that need to urgently raise their voices collectively translated into actions. We, as citizens, are all culprits if we dont act! The question is: which actions do we take? The only solution is “the collective power of where the money comes from”. Connect the money IN, to a full on legally and independently not politically aligned controlled “structure/body/collective” for the money OUT. We keep on paying our taxes, no tax disobedience: we demand the money spent where it is intended for. With all the checks and balances! Hectic times ask for hectic measures! This is just one of the ideas to “not wait and see”, but to “step up and do”. Lets put our collective brain to work for SA. Ideas welcome. Pragmatic. Problem solving. Solution oriented. Ethically correct. Not prone to criminal activity. Accountability to the core. Anyone?

    • johanw773 says:

      Very good comment. See my response to Hermann’s post, it’s in line with your sentiments. Like minded people need to now get together in order to try and rescue what can still be rescued.

      • Birgit Edmayr says:

        South Africans seem to find it difficult to stand together, take a stand …… made me recall this interview with Rob Hersov on You Tube > New SA DAO .
        A new country Blockchain DAO +.
        We need a societal solution which this would be. Very good interview and based on 15 principles.

    • Bert Kir says:

      What no-one seems to have noted is that the larger black populace has quietly been thrown into the same pot as the whites and is being subjected to the same slow death.

  • jlm81 says:

    The phone was not put next to a TV on high volume because he feared that his house was bugged, it was done because he feared that De Ruyter would be recording the conversation!

  • David Mark says:

    These treasonous cabals should be found and put to the sword.

  • David Katz says:

    The reason the current CEO is not loosing sleep is he is on medication or just does not care. Taking salary and no accountability seems to be his position.

  • Iam Fedup says:

    The question is, “Does this man of morals have the courage to stand up against what is obviously the greatest evil we have faced in 30 years?” We will know by the end of today.

  • Trevor Jones says:

    Until qualified people are installed as managers things will not improve.
    Appointing unqualified people as a reward for previous sychophancy and support will inevitably lead to disaster.
    The UK government is no better than the ANC, both are a bunch of crooks, the Brits just have better suits.

  • donald tullis says:

    The ANC has promoted name changes of streets, airports, towns/cities and provinces in South Africa. Isn’t it about time Megawatt park suffered the same fate? I would strongly support the new name being on the lines of milliWatt Park or smaller. The window of opportunity for a legitimate downgrade to kiloWatt Park was missed several years ago.
    Just waiting for the Karpower ships to tie up alongside some wharves in South Africa – when they start going wrong for whatever reason will the ANC think we are gullible enough to believe that the then lack of power is because the tide went out?

  • Bill Gild says:

    The situation is hopeless. Neither ADR, nor Gordhan, nor any of the courageous journalists and other commentators can rid South Africa of the malignancy that eats away at the foundations of this country.

    I don’t “cry for (South Africa)”; I am terrified of what the denouement will look like.

  • David Walker says:

    The Western Cape is working steadily towards energy independence. I just don’t know if it will happen quickly enough. The rest of the country seems to be moving rapidly downhill. The Western Cape needs to take over the running of everything it can or provide some alternative. I am just very grateful to live in a part of South Africa that is largely liberated from ANC misrule.

  • Neil Parker says:

    Pravin Gordhan deserves a better “report card”. He supported De Ruyter against the absolutely ridiculous allegations of “sabotage” from Gwede Mantashe. And we all owe him a huge debt of gratitude for his exposure of “State Capture”. The problem with good men (including de Ruyter) doing their job in South Africa is that they are left isolated and alone – there is not enough public support or appreciation for the risks (even to their lives) that they have taken. As a first target we need to blow out of the water (utterly and completely) the spurious charges made by the ANC / Vavi and co against de Ruyter. First they claimed that he did not report corruption. When that lie was exposed , they resorted to “defamation”. If the first claim is patently false, the second must be dismissed as completely frivolous by our courts and we must initiate legal action to that effect.

    • Jose.correia says:

      This is where in the USA there would be counter suing of these louts. For AdR to just be found not guilt is not good enough as they will resort to finding another sphere to attach. They need to be counter sued to weed them out the system.

    • rmrobinson says:

      Really? You think this even this his recent little tantrum about AdR?

  • Chris 123 says:

    And Gordham says he has never seen the security report, now who do I believe?

  • Chris 123 says:

    Just shows us how pathetic Ramapussas leadership is. No accountability seems to be the ANCs motto.

  • Fernando Moreira says:

    Watching Pravin waffling on about Eskom and his morals is like pulling teeth.
    Here is a man who asked the nation to join the DOTS , when its done for him ,he spends his time trying to discredit De Ruyter and not conentrate on the most glaring corruption in the world in front of him !!
    Backing the wrong ideology has very serious consequences for our nation !!

  • Rae Earl says:

    On Radio 702 today Gordhan spent some time rubbishing de Ruyter. Why? Does the truth hurt or is he trying to uphold his end in a cabinet which appears to be in disarray with the blame game and finger pointing exercises now well underway. They saw fit to retain de Ruyter for 3 years under impossible conditions without giving him assistance when he asked for it. It took them all that time to discover he was incompetent? What absolute bullshit. Since he has left the load shedding has risen to an almost permanent Stage 6 as against the Stage 4 under his watch.
    Shame on the whole ANC and especially the ministers responsible for this mess.

  • David Crossley says:

    Andre de Ruyter is undoubtedly a hero in my eyes – it takes immense courage to write a book dealing with the trials and tribulations he has faced during his tenure as CEO of Eskom.
    That Malema can even suggest that Koko and sundry corrupt ex CEO’s should come back to run Eskom is mendacious in the extreme and shows just how calamitous a South Africa run jointly by the EFF and the ANC would be.
    Whilst Malema is seen in some circles as an astute politician, his uttering soften border on complete stupidity and fabrication.

  • hartpgf says:

    Ramapussie, Gwede, Gordham, Mabuza, etc etc all know who and how Eskom is being stripped. If they profess that they do not know then they are blatant liars. They have no conscience, no integrity, but lots of money. They should all resign (ha ha )as the only honourable thing to do.

  • Has anyone calculated the number of businesses that have collapsed as a result of energy outages and the consequences of that on unemployment and tax revenue?

  • Alex Wood says:

    Well done de Ruiter an honest brave man with intergrity and guts! How much we need people with his character now to govern our country properly!, but this will never happen with the ANC in power, The hands of those who know and can help are tied with ropes of greed, power and blindness of truth!!

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