Cape Town - Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has denied claims by former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter that he had urged him to initiate a private intelligence gathering operation.
He said this was De Ruyter’s own initiative and he was not informed about it until months later.
He said De Ruyter had told him in passing about the project, but gave no details.
Gordhan, who was briefing the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) on Wednesday on De Ruyter’s allegations of corruption at Eskom, said he would not besmirch the names of people by naming anyone publicly without evidence for their alleged involvement in corruption.
He said his appearance in Scopa was not about shooting the messenger, but about De Ruyter being in charge of Eskom.
“This is not a mission to shoot the messenger. De Ruyter was in charge of an institution.
“This is not about shooting the messenger. This is not about this poor guy who is being attacked. If you are in charge, the buck stops with you,” said Gordhan.
De Ruyter had told Scopa a few weeks ago that a high-ranking politician was involved in corruption at Eskom.
Gordhan also denied claims that he was interfering in the operations at Eskom, saying his job was to ensure there were answers on key issues affecting the power utility.
Gordhan said the fact that De Ruyter was not vetted they left that to the Eskom Board.
The minister said he was not involved in the setting up of the private intelligence gathering operation at Eskom led by former national police commissioner George Fivaz.
“As far as the De Ruyter project is concerned, he did not discuss that with me at any length, merely in passing. He said ‘I am doing this because the law enforcement guys are not coming to the party.’ He said ‘I am not doing it with Eskom money, I am raising the money privately and I have told the chair about it.’ What he told the chair, I don’t know.
“Today we discover that the project started in January 2022. The interaction I am talking about happened in June 2022, six months later. He was operating on his own free will on this project. At the same time, it seemed he was writing a book as well, rather than focusing on his job of keeping the power stations going and providing South Africans with electricity. For six months I did not know anything about this project nor what he was up to,” said Gordhan.
He said the project was funded by big business at a cost of R50 million.