South Africa

Thabo Mbeki slams Andre de Ruyter

Former President Thabo Mbeki labelled Andre de Ruyter “the classical extreme right-wing anti-communist fanatic of the Apartheid years” and questioned how the ANC could have appointed “this sworn right-wing enemy of the ANC” as the CEO of Eskom.

This was in a letter sent by Mbeki to the deputy president of the African National Congress (ANC), Paul Mashatile, on 30 March 2023.

The main thrust of Mbeki’s letter was a criticism of the ANC for refusing to allow a parliamentary investigation into the Phala Phala matter.

However, the former president also had a section on the ANC’s rejection of an investigation into the Eskom crisis proposed in parliament.

Towards the end of this section, Mbeki heavily criticised the former Eskom CEO for his interview on eNCA, which aired in February.

In the interview, De Ruyter asserted that Eskom is serving as an ANC feeding trough and that its leaders are involved in and benefitting from criminal activity at the utility.

He also ridiculed the outdated ideological language still used by ANC members. According to De Ruyter, “the ghosts of Marx and Lenin still haunt the halls of Luthuli house”.

Mbeki’s critique

Mbeki says that the ANC has “not paid particular attention to the similarly important element of the De Ruyter interview…who is this man De Ruyter?”.

The interview exposed De Ruyter as “the classical extreme right-wing anti-communist fanatic of the Apartheid years”, said Mbeki.

The former Eskom CEO was “driven by his ideological conviction to destroy the anti-Christ, the ANC!” in exposing the corruption at the utility.

According to Mbeki, De Ruyter knew that the criminality at Eskom would soon be exposed. And so, “informed by his ideological outlook, he did what he could to publicly lay the blame for those misdeeds on the ANC”.

The former Eskom CEO did this to “draw attention away from the counter-revolutionary forces responsible for the Eskom crisis”.

The former President concludes that it is “strange indeed that we could have counted on this sworn right-wing enemy of the ANC and the democratic revolution to rescue Eskom”.

Mbeki is not alone

Mbeki is not the only member of the ANC elite to criticise De Ruyter publicly. Since the ENCA interview, many officials have come forward and attacked De Ruyter, with some also threatening legal action against him.

ANC secretary general Fikile Mbalula and public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan have chastised De Ruyter following the interview.

Mbalula said that De Ruyter had right-wing leanings, failed in his duties at Eskom, and acted repulsively during the interview.

Public enterprises minister Gordhan also attacked De Ruyter for “meddling” in politics instead of focusing on ending load-shedding.

Although the departing CEO said he would leave the country for a while for safety, the ANC threatened to file charges against him.

Eskom Chairman Mpho Makwana also criticised De Ruyter, saying that he behaved “reprehensibly” when he made accusations of theft and corruption within the power utility.

Makwana added that the former CEO spent his time “chasing renewables” rather than focusing on fixing existing coal plants and avoided a performance review by resigning just before it.

De Ruyter to testify about corruption allegations

Andre de Ruyter
Andre de Ruyter

De Ruyter has agreed to appear before the South African parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts and also present a written submission about his allegations of corruption at Eskom.

De Ruyter said in a television interview in February that Eskom was losing about R1 billion a month due to corruption and theft, with the help of people linked to the ANC.

He will be asked about corruption, theft, maladministration, sabotage, lack of consequence management, cartels and other financial irregularities at Eskom, the committee said in an emailed statement.

A date for the meeting hasn’t been set yet.


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