South Africa’s minister in charge of state-owned power company Eskom undermined upper management, disrupting efforts to end the nation’s energy crisis, said former chief executive Andre de Ruyter.
Pravin Gordhan, the minister for public enterprises, would verify information, communicated by the CEO, with lower-level Eskom employees, De Ruyter said in his new book “Truth to Power: My Three Years Inside Eskom.”
South Africa has been hobbled by frequent power cuts that are crimping economic growth.
“Whenever I heard of him double-checking my statements with Eskom employees, it left a bad taste in my mouth,” de Ruyter wrote in an excerpt published Sunday. “If you don’t trust me, fine, but tell me and then fire me.”
De Ruyter said in a television interview in February that Eskom was losing about 1 billion rand ($52 million) a month due to corruption and theft, with the help of people linked to the ruling African National Congress. A day later, Eskom announced that De Ruyter would leave the company with immediate effect.
A spokesman for Gordhan declined to comment, adding that the minister will appear in parliament in the coming week.
A new board appointed on Sept. 30 “showed its meddlesome streak” early on, also undermining Eskom’s top executives, De Ruyter wrote. “Board members often called employees on middle management level, several tiers below the board, to find out how things were going.”
An Eskom spokeswoman and its media desk didn’t immediately reply to messages seeking comment.