Early start to tough Eskom job for new CEO Andre de Ruyter
This was confirmed by Eskom spokesperson Dikatso Mothae, in response to a question from Independent Media.
“He was going to initially start in mid-January, and because of the load shedding the Cabinet then asked him to start sooner,” Mothae said.
Soon after Eskom implemented Stage 6 load shedding in early December, the Cabinet asked Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan to negotiate with De Ruyter about commencing his duties earlier than the set date.
De Ruyter, who served as chief executive officer of packaging company Nampak, was appointed to the Eskom post in November last year.
Eskom had not had a permanent chief executive since the resignation of Phakamani Hadebe in July, and board chairperson Jabu Mabuza had acted as its chief executive on an interim basis.
The EFF labelled De Ruyter’s appointment at Eskom as part of a “racist project by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan to undermine Africans”.
The National Union of Metalworkers of SA was also not pleased with De Ruyter’s appointment, with the union’s general secretary Irvin Jim saying at the time that it “did not do anything to aide transformation in the country”.
Jim further said the appointment “is an insult to blacks and Africans in this country, (and inferred) that to date in this country since the democratic breakthrough, we do not have competent black women and black Africans who can occupy such a position”.
Following De Ruyter’s appointment, Gordhan, answering questions in Parliament, praised De Ruyter’s leadership capabilities, and called him a patriotic South African because he had taken a 20% pay cut to become Eskom’s chief executive.
De Ruyter is expected, together with his management team, to immediately deal with issues of governance and the lack of financial management at Eskom, and attempt to stabilise operations.
He joins the power utility when it is saddled with a number of ageing power stations, and structural defects at Medupi and Kusile, Eskom’s new power stations.
Speaking to journalists after the Cabinet meeting in December, Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu said one of the things De Ruyter had to do was to stabilise electricity supply in the country.