Former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter said the African National Congress (ANC) has investors “heading for the hills” with regard to their economic policy which is subject to rapid change and ideologically blinkered.
These comments were made in De Ruyter’s new book, Truth to Power: My Three Years Inside Eskom, in which he exposes widespread corruption and incompetence at the power utility.
The former CEO said the governing party had a profound lack of business acumen which led to counter-productive legislation.
Even President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is regarded as a successful businessman, “is not someone who has hands-on experience of building an enterprise from the bottom up”.
“Shrewd corporate dealmaking, lubricated by favourable black empowerment legislation, built his fortune,” according to De Ruyter.
The ANC simply fails to understand what moves investors. Strict procurement and labour laws “poison the well and have them heading for the hills”.
“The lack of self-awareness from the ANC was astonishing. It was as though they did not realise that they were the government,” De Ruyter said.
Meeting with high-level politicians and ministers would be all talk and no action. There was also a distinct lack of coordination and cohesion between different spheres of the government.
The President allows each minister “to cook their own broth as far as policymaking is concerned”, resulting in policy uncertainty among investors.
Politicians also tend to have a two-to-three-year horizon, living from election to election, according to De Ruyter, whereas infrastructure investments require decades-long horizons.
This resulted in clashes between politicians and investors, including Eskom executives on the side of the investors.
De Ruyter added that “debating with Marxists is like debating with members of the Flat Earth Society. You will never win”.
The ANC also failed to recognise the true cause of Eskom’s poor performance, which is its own incompetence and the incompetence of employees.
“But for the ideological blinkers over our government’s eyes, South Africa could do great things.”