Central Energy Fund refutes De Ruyter’s ‘misleading allegations’

Former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter at media briefing in Johannesburg. Picture: ANA Archives

Former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter at media briefing in Johannesburg. Picture: ANA Archives

Published Feb 23, 2023


The Central Energy Fund (CEF) said on Thursday that it had noted a misleading media report aired on e.tv’s news channel on Tuesday night and repeated on eNCA’s “Check Point”.

The statement from the CEF comes after a turbulent 24 hours in which Eskom announced on Wednesday night that De Ruyter would be leaving with immediate effect.

This after it said in the same television interview that there was rampant corruption which was being engineered by top politicians from the governing party who were interfering at the ailing power utility.

“He will be released from his position with immediate effect,” Eskom said in a statement.

CEF also came out defending its organisation’s integrity: “Eskom’s CEO André de Ruyter is on record during an interview with Annika Larsen saying, from what we can hear from the recording, while responding to a question: “Now we are going into the realm of speculation, and again, no evidence. About three months ago there was a visit by the Russian minister of energy to South Africa.

“Russia as we know is very long on gas following its invasion of Ukraine. It is looking for markets for gas, there is no doubt about that. It was quite interesting for me to observe how soon after we received a request from the Central Energy Fund to transfer three of our ageing power stations Camden, Hendrina and Grootvlei to the Central Energy Fund, which by the way reports to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, to convert those to gas. Ah, now maybe I am adding one and one and getting three but, ah politics there is very seldom such a thing as a coincidence,” De Ruyter said.

CEF said it considered it reckless for De Ruyter to go on national television and make wild allegations about the request for collaboration with Eskom on the coal-fired power stations that the power utility intended to decommission, as he clearly said in the interview, without evidence.

The CEF said, “Instead of focusing on the content of the letter he is referring to that he received from CEF, he elects to indulge in the realm of speculation.

de Ruyter’s intentions ‘sinister’

“The intention though from Mr De Ruyter is a sinister one, which has nothing to do with addressing the debilitating effects of load shedding on the South African economy through ensuring the optimisation of the capacity that sits within the South African state to address this challenge.”

The CEF said the request to Eskom was to intensify collaboration between the two state-owned entities given the Just Energy Transition and the importance of gas due to the base load capacity challenge.

CEF said it took the allegation seriously.

“We have been at pains explaining to Mr De Ruyter that the collaboration of Eskom with an entity of the state such as CEF from a gas to power standpoint makes the most economic sense given the Rompco (Republic of Mozambique Pipeline Company) infrastructure position and possibility of increasing gas flow and the implications thereof on the gas price. And, the implications of this on job retention and creation in the Mpumalanga area is also at the heart of our request for collaboration,” it said.

CEF also said it had sent a letter to De Ruyter underlying the importance of collaborating with Mozambique for gas to power given the gas pipeline infrastructure that the South African state co-owns through a 100% subsidiary of CEF, iGas.

The CEF sent the media a copy of the letter in its media statement dated December 5, 2022.

“Mr De Ruyter instead, as he clearly puts it in the interview, chooses to indulge in speculation, and to his credit mentions that there is no evidence to the link he tries to make between our request for collaboration with Eskom and his speculation.

“Mr De Ruyter is deliberately misleading in his response and hides behind the qualification that he makes before he proceeds to choose not to tell the truth regarding CEF’s proposal for collaboration with Eskom on gas to power. CEF is also of the view that it does not help to address the base load capacity by replacing base load generation with intermittent generation profile, and our proposal is geared towards ensuring that this risk does not intensify. It is also important to indicate that CEF clearly indicated to Mr De Ruyter that it is not wise for land to be auctioned off without thinking about optimising synergies within the state in relation to generation,” the CEF said.

The organisation said it was unfortunate that the CEF had been put in a position where it had to respond in public to De Ruyter’s “indulgence in the realm of speculation without evidence”.

The former Eskom boss also said during this interview on eTV that there was rampant corruption which was being engineered by top politicians from the governing party, who are interfering at the ailing power utility.

De Ruyter made shocking revelations, saying undisclosed members of the governing party and government at the highest levels were aware of the corruption that is happening at Eskom and also that the utility serves as the ANC’s “feeding trough”.

De Ruyter said he was approached by a minister about a high-level politician who was involved in sinister and potentially criminal activities at the utility.

He also said that criminal syndicates in Mpumalanga were stealing around R1 billion a month from Eskom, and nothing much was being done about it.