André de Ruyter

André de Ruyter: Eskom CEO to be probed for racism

Published by Andile Sicetsha

Eskom Group CEO André de Ruyter is facing the possibility of being axed after a year at the helm of South Africa’s worst-run state-owned entity (SOE).

André de Ruyter to be investigated for racism

The troubles he faces, it seems, have little to do with his performance as the captain of a sinking Titanic. Instead, allegations have propped up, suggesting that Ruyter may be applying racist tactics in the way he chooses Eskom suppliers.

On Thursday, Newzroom Afrika confirmed in a report that the probe into Ruyter’s conduct has been greenlit by the power utility’s board, in concurrence with Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa).

No further details have been provided on the inquiry’s timelines and terms of reference. However, we do know that Advocate Ishmael Semenya will lead the inquiry into racism allegations against the Eskom CEO.

Is Ruyter pushing out black suppliers in favour of white-owned businesses?

Central to this probe are allegations from Eskom insiders who claim that the 51-year-old is allegedly bypassing procurement protocols to bring in his ‘white’ friends, much to the isolation of black suppliers.

At the forefront of these claims is suspended Chief Procurement Officer Solly Tshitangano who, in a scathing letter to the Eskom board and Scopa, suggested that Ruyter was using racist tactics to elbow out blacks from the power utility.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has echoed Tshitangano’s sentiment. In a recent statement, Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola held little belief in the probe, claiming that this was just another whitewash process undertaken by the Eskom board “to support a failed GCEO.”

“There has been a concerted effort to get rid of black engineers who have skills and who understand how to run Eskom,” Hlubi-Majola claimed.

While Eskom has welcomed the process, the power utility made it clear that it has full confidence in Ruyter. Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha revealed that, contrary to the low public confidence in the 51-year-old, data suggests that he is the utility’s most successful leader in six years.

“During 2015, Eskom had the worst load shedding at 115 days. In the financial year ended March 2020, load shedding was implemented for 42 days – this includes stage 6 that was implemented in the first week of December 2019. Mr de Ruyter joined Eskom in January 2020. This financial year ends on 31 March 2021, and load shedding has so far been implemented for 37 days since 1 April 2020,” he said.

At this time, Ruyter has not been asked to step aside. The power utility has yet to issue a statement on the matter.