Former Eskom spokesman blames ANC for mess at power utility

Former Eskom spokesman Sikonathi Mantshantsha says the ANC, and the ANC only, is responsible for South Africa’s electricity crisis.

Eskom appointed Mantshantsha to lead its media liaison team as national spokesperson on 1 February 2020, shortly after Andre de Ruyter took the reins.

At the time, De Ruyter said Mantshantsha’s appointment was “a firm step to strengthen our efforts to improve Eskom’s image”.

He worked as a financial journalist at Media24, FinWeek,, Bloomberg, Business Day, Financial Mail, and Daily Maverick, which means he understood the media well.

“His extensive media experience, specifically within the energy industry, will benefit his transition into Eskom and allow him to adapt quickly to this dynamic environment,” De Ruyter said.

Mantshantsha did an exceptional job making Eskom and De Ruyter look good and was highly regarded as an approachable and knowledgeable spokesman.

He left Eskom at the end of February 2023, shortly after De Ruyter stepped down as CEO following a dispute with the power utility.

Eskom interim CEO Calib Cassim credited Mantshantsha for improving transparency and frequency of information sharing.

In April 2023, Mantshantsha joined News24’s business desk as a writer-at-large, covering corporate South Africa.

He has steered away from writing in-depth articles about Eskom. Instead, he focused on topics like taxes, state debt, politics, and economics.

However, in his recent column, he addressed the South African electricity crisis and recent claims from Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa about Eskom’s collapse.

Last week, Ramokgopa told Parliament that no individual was responsible for Eskom’s deterioration and the country’s energy crisis.

Mantshantsha lambasted this comment. “This is pure nonsense. Maybe not one individual, no. But it is very clear that one party is culpable,” he said.

“The ANC is fully and entirely responsible for the crisis of electricity in South Africa for the past 17 years. Ramokgopa knows this. All of us do.”

“We all know the ANC’s policies and its practice of cadre deployment; direct and indirect looting of state institutions are the instruments it employed to the great devastation of those institutions.”

This is the first time since his departure from Eskom that Mantshantsha has expressed his opinion so clearly on who is to blame for the mess as the power utility.

Read Sikonathi Mantshantsha’s full column about Eskom here.

Mantshantsha’s comments align with De Ruyter’s comments about the ANC’s involvement in Eskom’s collapse in his book, ‘Truth to Power: My Three Years Inside Eskom’.

In his book, De Ruyter explained that he realised soon after taking the hot seat in January 2020 why being Eskom CEO was considered the toughest job in South Africa.

Aside from neglected equipment, ageing power stations and an eroded skills base, he discovered that Eskom was crippled by corruption on a staggering scale.

De Ruyter said the power utility is a feeding trough for the ruling ANC involving high-profile politicians.

He alleged there is knowledge and support for corruption at the highest levels of the ruling party and the government.

In one instance, he approached a senior minister about a high-level politician involved in sinister and potentially criminal activities at Eskom.

“The minister in question looked at a senior official and said‘ ‘I guess it was inevitable that it would come out anyway’. It suggests that it was not new,” De Ruyter said.

In another instance, he expressed concerns to a minister about the government’s attempts to water down an $8.5 billion package to accelerate the country’s clean energy transition.

“The response was that you have to be pragmatic. To pursue the greater good, you have to enable some people to eat a little bit. It is entrenched,” he said.

Former Mpumalanga Premier and ANC NEC member Mathews Phosa confirmed De Ruyter’s comments.

In an interview with Nuuspod, Phosa said there are direct links between Eskom corruption and some ANC ministers and premiers.

He added that many honest members of the ruling party are fighting against corruption but that it is not an easy battle.

“Corruption has spread throughout South Africa, which is a big challenge for the ANC. However, it can be cleaned up if you set an example,” Phosa said.

“Corrupt government officials should be prosecuted and put in jail. People fear jail, and it will show corrupt officials the price of their action.”

He said there is currently no risk associated with corruption as the government is “all talk and no action” regarding malfeasance.


Top JSE indices