Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter in ’power abuse’ probe after complaint letter sent to board chairperson
Pretoria - The government’s chief procurement officer (CPO), Solly Tshitangano, has implored Eskom chairperson Professor Malegapuru Makgoba to probe allegations of “abuse of power, suspension of rules relating to recruitment, performance management, procurement and governance processes” levelled against the power utility’s chief executive officer Andre de Ruyter.
In a scathing letter seen by the Pretoria News, Tshitangano also urged Makgoba to live up to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s commitment to report crime whenever “we see it being committed”.
This comes after De Ruyter was accused of appointing a service provider, Werner Mouton, to analyse fuel oil bid documents without following due process. The Eskom boss was also accused of abusing single source procurement and treating suspicious transactions differently.
Tshitangano also accused Eskom chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer of “gossiping” about a plan to move him from procurement to compliance.
The CPO said in his letter that “the plan behind my removal is to ensure that a white male is appointed as chief procurement officer”.
In his letter dated February 16, 2020, which the Pretoria News obtained, Tshitangano added that he was disappointed with De Ruyter because he had been expected to end a culture where corruption, nepotism and patronage were tolerated.
“I am very disappointed to request you to investigate the allegations of abuse of power and suspension of rules relating to recruitment, performance management, procurement and governance processes by the group chief executive of Eskom, Mr Andre de Ruyter.
“I thought Andre will bring to Eskom a culture where corruption, nepotism and patronage are not tolerated, and where action is taken against those who abuse their power or steal public money as pointed out by the president in his 2020 State of the Nation address,” Tshitangano said.
Appointed as the CPO in January 2019, Tshitangano reminded Makgoba that Ramaphosa had emphasised that his administration would “not let up in the fight against corruption and state capture”, would “need to work together to root out corruption and strengthen the rule of law”, would “not solicit or pay bribes or engage in corrupt acts”, and would instead “upgrade our culture of reporting crime when we see it being committed”.
Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha confirmed the exchange between De Ruyter and Tshitangano but said there was nothing peculiar about it.
“Eskom can confirm the Group CEO did have discussions with Mr Tshitangano concerning the performance of the department under his leadership, as he does regularly with all Eskom executives. As is common practice in enterprises, performance discussions are held with management, and underperforming executives may not find that experience to their liking, particularly where an organisation and department is not delivering according to expectations, “Mantshantsha said.
“The chairperson of Eskom can confirm that he did receive a letter written to him by Mr Tshitangano during January 2020. The request was for the chairperson to intervene and investigate the allegations. The chairperson was familiar with most of the issues as these had been previously shared with the board.
“The chairman contacted Solly Tshitangano, André de Ruyter and Human Resources group executive Elsie Pule to familiarise himself with the details of the issues. The chairperson assessed the allegations as he was familiar with most of the issues as the board had already deliberated on them.
“He found there was insufficient evidence/substance or merit to institute an inquiry. The chairman spoke to all the parties concerned and the matter was closed. He never heard from either party on these issues.”
Mantshantsha added: “These allegations are operational and should have been followed and addressed through the grievance systems and dispute resolution processes of Eskom, which begin with a grievance being filed. No grievance was filed.”
Tshitangano questioned Mouton’s appointment, saying it was irregular. “The process to identify and engage an expert promoted a culture where corruption, nepotism and patronage are tolerated. Andre disregarded the fairness and transparency principles. As a result, Werner was appointed and given a monthly salary of R200 000, as if he is the only expert in this country.
“Human Resources assisted Andre to appoint his preferred expert, undermining the demands of equal treatment and transparency,” Tshitangano added. The company was not only irregularly appointed, but submited a biased report and displayed very little understanding of Eskom processes.