BMF calls for Eskom CEO’s immediate suspension amid racism allegations
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Durban - The Black Management Forum (BMF) has called for the immediate suspension of Eskom Group CEO (GCEO) Andre De Ruyter during investigations amid racism allegations.
BMF said they were astonished that De Ruyter continued working during the investigation because it contravened numerous governance and labour law principles, adding “we would expect that allegations of racism are serious enough for the board not to leave anything to chance when it comes to the investigation process”.
BMF added that at the time of De Ruyter’s appointment, the organisation warned that his employment was a setback in the country’s pursuit of racial transformation in top management positions.
“The BMF has since received numerous complaints from employees and suppliers of Eskom about the prevailing white supremacy culture that is inculcated by the new leadership, led by De Ruyter. His conduct at Eskom is synonymous to his tenure at Nampak, to which we were advised De Ruyter only appointed white males to executive positions,” BMF said.
“We call on the Eskom Board to immediately suspend De Ruyter to ensure the process is credible and does not become yet another farce. The suspension is justified in the interest of a fair process that is not intimidating to witnesses. The BMF will write a letter to the chairperson of the Eskom Board as well as the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, where we will detail the specific instances that convince us that De Ruyter is not suitable for the job as CEO of Eskom; both on competence as well as on his outlook on issues of transformation.”
BMF said the country had been in lockdown for almost a year, which came with a much reduced demand on electricity than would have been the case without the lockdown, yet the country had experienced more than 800 hours of load shedding during this period. “This should be a clear indication to the board that those in Eskom’s management have limited capacity to turn things around.”
BMF called on the board to extend the scope of this investigation to include De Ruyter’s overall competence in running Eskom.
BMF president Andile Nomlala said: “BMF is perplexed that the same government which claims Eskom is the biggest challenge that needs to be solved to resuscitate the South African economy, is willing to gamble with inexperienced non-engineers both in the form of the GCEO and a number of board members. The board and GCEO are clearly failing to meet the standards required to save Eskom.
“President Cyril Ramaphosa needs to take action on the dilapidated state of state-owned enterprises under Minister Pravin Gordhan. We are all aware of the devastating effects of state capture, but that cannot be used as an excuse in perpetuity.”
Nomlala said that in 2019 they had cautioned against “the plethora of unqualified white male CEOs who are deemed as messiahs coming to salvage black executives”.
“However, in less than two years, CEOs at Denel and Mango Airlines have since vacated their posts, while De Ruyter continues despite Eskom’s abysmal performance under his leadership.”
BMF said the popular narrative that suggests “that anyone who raises legitimate concerns about a person who claims to be fighting corruption - like De Ruyter - is necessarily someone who supports corruption,” should not be used as a refuge for those who, by their conduct, have shown themselves to be anti-transformation.
“BMF will continue to support those who are fighting corruption, but, by the same token, BMF will not hesitate to call out those who are hellbent on retaining the status quo of economic exclusion of black people.”