Andre De Ruyter vanishes in the dark of the night

Sacked Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter leaves the embattled power utility with a legacy characterised by the worst power cuts in the country’s history. Graphic: Timothy Alexander/African News Agency (ANA)

Sacked Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter leaves the embattled power utility with a legacy characterised by the worst power cuts in the country’s history. Graphic: Timothy Alexander/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Feb 24, 2023


Cape Town - Sacked Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter leaves the embattled power utility with a legacy characterised by the worst power cuts in the country’s history.

Of De Ruyter’s legacy, energy expert Lungile Mashele noted: “Longest consecutive load-shedding hours December 2022 to February 2023.

No reliability maintenance carried out. FY2022 (financial year 2022) financials delivered on the 23rd of December 2022.

“Worst energy availability factor and unplanned capability loss factor in Eskom’s 100-year history, high staff turnover, especially senior management, interference with procurement practices, hence a reprimand from Treasury.

“Highest diesel usage and costs, and failed turnaround, which was later attributed to ‘sabotage’. ‘Sabotage’ related to foreign objects in coal or sludge only accounts for 0.64% of other capability loss factors.”

Eskom announced that De Ruyter was leaving the company with immediate effect on Wednesday night following an interview with TV news channel eNCA.

He made a number of allegations, including claims of political meddling by some ANC ministers.

He was set to leave at the end of next month after he resigned in December. So far, the power utility has been mum on his replacement.

Mashele said the interview came at a time when South Africa had entered stage 8 load shedding for the first time.

“On Sunday, the 19th of February, we went into an indefinite stage 6 load shedding, which was supposed to be reduced to stage 4 as of Wednesday evening – this never happened.

“Instead on the 22nd of February, load shedding was 7 092MW. It is a pity that his utterances are distracting from the real problem of a compromised grid and a lack of energy supply in South Africa,” Mashele said.

Speaking to eNCA, De Ruyter had said: “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 (CEF), which, by the way, reports into 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.”

He also said: “My rough estimate of what is stolen from Eskom is about R1 billion a month and we’ve made some inroads.

We’ve started closing the taps and that doesn’t make you any friends.

It’s difficult to speculate on who might have wanted to make an attempt on my life but the people with motive, there’s , there's a pretty long list,” he added.

The CEF also rejected specific claims against it as “misleading”and “sinister”, saying: “The intention 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 at the heart of the request from the CEF to Eskom was, and still is, intensifying collaboration between the two state-owned entities given the just energy transition and the importance of gas in this, taking into account the base load capacity challenge.

“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.”

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula accused De Ruyter of shifting the blame from his own shortcomings to other people.

“We must ask why he is only raising these ridiculous allegations when he leaves Eskom.

“We will not be deterred and sidetracked by utterances of naysayers such as the outgoing Eskom CEO.

His opportunistic venture into the political arena has unmasked his regressive political and ideological agenda.

“Mr De Ruyter was appointed strictly to lead the turnaround of Eskom into a functional public enterprise that provides the country with stable, reliable electricity. He has completely failed to deliver on this contractual obligation.

“Instead, he shifts the goalposts by advertising his right wing ideological posture on a matter that falls outside the scope of his employment contract.”

He said the ANC rejected his “unfortunate, irresponsible, and baseless” claims of alleged political meddling and corruption at the embattled power utility.

“If Mr De Ruyter has any evidence to the contrary, he is duty bound to present it.”

But public enterprises portfolio committee chairperson Khaya Magaxa said the oversight body couldn’t ignore De Ruyter’s “serious allegations”.

In an interview with MyBroadband, De Ruyter said he would be spending time abroad after leaving Eskom.

When asked if he was concerned that he may be murdered following the information he shared in his interview, he said: “I think that will be good for my health.”

Eskom spokesperson Sikhonathi Matshantsha confirmed in an interview on Talk Radio 702 that the board felt De Ruyter had brought the organisation into disrepute.

Eskom also rejected claims that it implemented stage 7 load shedding this week.

Cape Times