Eskom has been fixed – despite Andre de Ruyter’s claims

Eskom has been fixed by the people currently working at the utility, despite claims by former CEO Andre de Ruyter that it is unfixable. 

This is feedback from Eskom chairman Mteto Nyati, who disputed De Ruyter’s claims that Eskom’s collapse cannot be turned around in an interview with 702

De Ruyter was the keynote speaker at the recent PSG Financial Services Annual Conference, where he was asked about his tenure at Eskom.

He explained that Eskom was not “in robust health” when he first joined, and it soon became clear to him that the utility was “a patient just about in terminal decline”.

As CEO, he encountered numerous operational and financial issues like non-paying customers, including municipalities that refused to pay.

“All of those things conspired to make this a difficult challenge,” he said.

De Ruyter said that despite giving his “best shot” as CEO, he could not fix the utility.

This is partly because, according to De Ruyter, Eskom is not fixable in its current form, and the utility cannot be resurrected to the monolith of the past that won the global utility of the year 2001.

De Ruyter made similar comments earlier this year when he said South Africans must abandon their nostalgia for when the country had cheap power produced by Eskom that was available 24/7. 

“That time is gone. I don’t think we’ll see it again,” he said.

He said the only logical outcome of Eskom’s reform and restructuring is that the company will be unbundled into three divisions – generation, transmission and distribution.

Eskom chairman Nyati said that not only can the utility be fixed but that it has already been fixed by the people currently working there. 

“At the end of the day, we have people at Eskom who have fixed Eskom,” he said in response to questions about whether the utility’s suspension of load-shedding was sustainable. 

“I heard some people saying you cannot fix Eskom. There is no such thing. You know, there are people who are unable to think that certain things can be done.”

“They must not stand in front of the people who are doing those things, which is what we are exactly doing.”

In the same interview, Nyati said De Ruyter cannot claim credit for the load-shedding relief South Africa has experienced for over a month. 

“It has been part of a plan that we put together, and that plan was developed jointly with management and it was presented to the board and approved by the board in March last year,” Nyati said.

“That plan is really about accelerating and executing planned maintenance, and that planned maintenance that we did, unlike in the past, changed because we made sure that we were partnering with the original equipment manufacturers.”

He acknowledged that Eskom spent a lot of money on diesel in the past financial year to keep its OCGTs running to compensate for the equipment that they had to remove.

“We spent a lot of this budget in the last 12 months, and rightly so, because we needed to minimise the impact of load-shedding on South Africa. We had to make choices, and those choices were difficult – remove the equipment, go and fix it,” he said.

“But the beauty of what we did was that it was a pain in the short term, and as we were bringing the equipment back, we were bringing equipment that was much more reliable, and this is what we are seeing now.”


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