Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter said the power utility is a feeding trough for the ANC and that the party is stuck in outdated communist ideologies, which embarrasses South Africa among foreign diplomats and investors.
De Ruyter made these comments during an interview with ENCA’s Annika Larsen about the problems at Eskom.
He made numerous explosive revelations, including that there is knowledge and support of 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 that was 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 news,” De Ruyter said.
The Eskom CEO would not reveal who the person is but said he was still in a senior government position.
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.
State security monitoring De Ruyter
De Ruyter revealed that criminal syndicates in Mpumalanga were stealing around R1 billion a month from Eskom.
Despite the widespread theft and criminal activity in Mpumalanga, state security was “missing in action”.
“However, they did see fit to send one of their agents to COP 27 to keep an eye on me,” the Eskom CEO said.
“When one of my friends asked him what he was doing there, he said he was keeping an eye on the big guy.”
“Clearly, I am under suspicion of treasonous activity, but the real culprits can act with impunity. These things are Kafkaesque.”
The ANC not interested in fixing Eskom, says De Ruyter
Commenting on the ANC, De Ruyter said, “they want what will win them the next election, not what will keep the country going for the next two decades”.
“That balance has been disturbed by turning Eskom into a state-owned entity under the direct control of the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE).”
He said the DPE, under the leadership of minister Pravin Gordhan, played an interventionist role at Eskom and micromanaged the company.
“There is a narrative that the state should control everything,” De Ruyter said. “The ghosts of Marx and Lenin still haunt the halls of Luthuli House. People are still firmly committed to a 1980s style ideology.”
“They still address one another as comrades – which is, frankly, embarrassing. They use words like Lumpenproletariat [the underclass devoid of class consciousness], which is ridiculous.”
When individuals talk to foreign diplomats and investors, the bemusement and confusion with which they leave those meetings create a big problem for South Africa’s credibility.
“People say we have not heard this language since the fall of the Berlin Wall. What do these people think,” he said.
The fight against renewable green energy
De Ruyter said there is a connection between theft, sabotage, procurement irregularities, and local and national politics.
“There is very little explanation for the very vociferous opposition to starting the just energy transition,” he said.
Decarbonising the South African economy is essential to protecting the environment, growing the economy, and addressing energy security.
“Why else [except for vested interests] would you so absolutely resist even the commencement of the transition,” he asked.
De Ruyter raised the issue with one of his colleagues, which he describes as a wise woman, and her response was telling. “But Andre, you are naïve. You are not showing the comrades a way to eat,” she said.
“There are so many vested interests in the coal value chain that the threat of decarbonisation is so eagerly opposed.”