New Eskom CEO will follow in Andre de Ruyter’s footsteps

New Eskom CEO Dan Marokane will end up like former CEO Andre de Ruyter unless Eskom’s political economy is reformed.

This is the view of Truth and Energy civil nuclear engineer Hugo Kruger, who told SABC News that the root cause of Eskom’s problems is the political environment surrounding the utility.

Currently, South Africa has three ministers who oversee Eskom – Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe, Electricity Minister Kgosienthso Ramokgopa, and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.

“You’ve got three ministers when we need one. We can’t have a minister appointing the board, setting policy, and one doing the executive’s job,” Kruger said. “That, to me, is the root cause – it is the political environment.”

Kruger said that while Marokane is highly qualified and has the skills and knowledge to turn Eskom around, the utility’s political environment could be a significant pitfall.

“Unless we reform the political economy around it, he’s going to end up like another Andre de Ruyter,” Kruger warned.

The former Eskom CEO left the utility following repeated clashes with the government and has been critical of the government’s intense involvement in the utility.

De Ruyter announced his resignation from the utility in December 2022 after Mantashe publicly accused Eskom management of “agitating for the overthrow of the state”.

Following his departure, De Ruyter also revealed that Gordhan was heavily involved in the utility.

De Ruyter previously said there were many examples of Gordhan’s intervention in the utility’s day-to-day operations. The minister allegedly bypassed the former CEO, his COO, and Eskom’s head of generation.

“Whether that was to gain or verify information, I don’t know, but it made life as the responsible accounting officer quite difficult,” he said. “Many different cooks in the kitchen do not always result in a good meal.”

De Ruyter has also said the appointment of Ramokgopa as Electricity Minister was “puzzling”.

“The appointment of an Electricity Minister was a somewhat puzzling move because, at my time at Eskom, we were already stretched thin in terms of making presentations to and attending meetings with government officials,” De Ruyter said. 

He said that Eskom’s management team was already having meetings at all hours “to meet the needs of various members of the Cabinet to remain informed”. 

“The introduction of an additional layer, without simplifying reporting lines, that probably was not helpful,” De Ruyter said. 

Kruger is not the only person who has warned Marokane about his new role.

Following his appointment, trade union Solidarity urged Marokane to show the integrity necessary to withstand external pressure.

Solidarity supported Marokane among the shortlisted candidates thanks to his experience and familiarity with Eskom.

Theuns du Buisson, an economic researcher at the Solidarity Research Institute, said Marokane would have to show backbone against political interference, cadres, and cadre deployment.

“We have seen that he was prepared to swim against the tide at Eskom in the past, and he was presumably ousted from there by the servants of state capture,” he said.

“Hopefully, he would be prepared to do what Eskom desperately needs now.”

“Solidarity hopes Marokane has the necessary sense of duty to stand firm in the face of the inevitable pressure he will experience from various quarters.”


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