How Jan Oberholzer’s Eskom book plan collapsed

Jan Oberholzer

Several publishers approached former Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer to write a book at the end of last year, but a deal with writer Jacques Pauw collapsed and paused the plan.

Seven weeks ago, former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter released a new book, Truth to Power: My Three Years Inside Eskom.

In his book, De Ruyter exposed widespread corruption and incompetence at the power utility involving senior politicians.

The book, which went on sale on 14 May, was kept secret. Even staff at Exclusive Books were unaware of the book’s launch before it hit the shelves.

De Ruyter later revealed that he started collecting information for his book six months after taking over as CEO in January 2020.

“I’d make copious notes, so what I’d do was, every Sunday between about 8:00 and midday, I’d get those thoughts down on paper,” he told Financial Mail.

“Then, over the past few months, I worked with an editorial team from Penguin who helped me put it all together.”

Oberholzer told Biznews founder Alec Hogg that De Ruyter informed him that he was writing a book about his time at Eskom.

He further revealed that several publishers approached him to write his own book towards the end of 2022.

“I discussed the issue with Andre de Ruyter, and he told me about his book, Truth to Power: My Three Years Inside Eskom,” he said.

However, Oberholzer’s book was put on hold after Jacques Pauw, who was set to help write it, pulled out.

“Until a couple of months ago, Jacques Pauw was going to write it with me, but things didn’t turn out as expected,” he said.

“Jacques and I signed a contract, but for some undisclosed reason, Jacques decided to cancel it. You can read what he said in News 24, which caused quite a stir.”

Jacques Pauw
Author Jacques Pauw

Oberholzer was referring to a series of articles on News24 where Pauw criticised George Fivaz’s Eskom intelligence reports which De Ruyter used for his expose.

“I started going through them and realised there was no substance here. There is absolutely no evidence,” Pauw said.

Pauw also discussed his interaction with the lead investigator in this investigation, Tony Oosthuizen, a freelance intelligence operative and former “desk head” of a Military Intelligence unit.

“I got the impression that Oberholzer had much faith in Oosthuizen, who I felt had conned both him and De Ruyter.”

Pauw said he had communicated widely with Oberholzer about writing a book on Eskom, and he paved the way for him to meet Oosthuizen.

“We have spoken since early this year about writing a book about his challenges and experiences at Eskom,” Pauw said.

“Two things happened: he started negotiating with Eskom about taking a contract for another two or three years and I discovered the extent of the investigation after meeting with Oosthuizen.”

“How would we have treated the investigation in the book? We couldn’t ignore it. I thought it would cause great conflict and disagreement and decided to cancel the contract.”


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