Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has not denied that he was warned of Eskom’s misconduct by the power utility’s former CEO, André De Ruyter.
Following his shocking interview with eNCA, De Ruyter’s early retirement from Eskom was announced this week.
The former Eskom CEO, who was set to quit next month, released bombshells about R1 billion still being wasted due to corruption and that the power provider was a feeding trough for the African National Congress (ANC).
In the interview, De Ruyter also stated that he informed a minister about his concerns, but the Cabinet member’s answer was: “I guess it was inevitable that this would come out anyway”.
According to City Press, this minister was later confirmed to be Gordhan.
Gordhan, according to reports, did not deny being the minister who was told by De Ruyter, but he criticised the suspected wrongdoing at Eskom.
Earlier last week, the Public Enterprises minister criticized De Ruyter for publicly speaking out against systemic fraud, saying: “CEOs of entities such as Eskom should not be involved in open political debates or assertions”.
He also said that the former Eskom CEO caught him off guard.
“Let’s say that it is very disappointing because many people in government gave him support for his role and as a patriotic South African we thought he was going to make a proper contribution to ensure energy security in the country.
“I am sure that there are some good things that he has done and so we cannot take that away from him. At the same time, to engage in the incorrect narrative coming out of that interview, is just completely shocking,” Gordhan told Sunday Times.
The minister also stated that he provided De Ruyter his complete backing, even when others criticised his work as CEO of Eskom.
Gwede Mantashe, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, has compared De Ruyter to a “policeman” who was focused on “chasing criminals” and had little understanding of Eskom’s difficulties.
“When you are a lawyer, the actual challenges you are not going to understand. You are going to chase criminals; that is your competence,” Mantashe said in December last year.
Eskom’s board is apparently investigating De Ruyter’s allegations.
According to City Press, two serving Cabinet members are also suspected of being involved in an Eskom corruption investigation.
The ministers allegedly masked their tracks extremely well, with the money allegedly being channelled through intimate acquaintances and family members.
Van Ruyter initiated the probe in early 2022, and the South African Police Service (Saps) was reportedly involved.
According to the publication, three senior police officers have been in charge of the forensic investigations at Eskom’s central office in Johannesburg, Megawatt Park.
However, the police’s work has been hampered by alleged reluctance on the part of some employees to turn over crucial documentation.
Meanwhile, the ANC has challenged De Ruyter to prove his accusations, failing which the party will take legal action.
According to the ruling party, it is already talking with its lawyers on the topic.
“We reiterate our call to Mr De Ruyter to lay criminal charges, with verifiable details about his serious allegations, to allow law enforecement agencies to investigate, and where appropriate, to prosecute those who have a case to answer, including any ANC members or public representatives who have violated both the laws of the Republic as well as the prescripts of the ANC Constitution and their oath of membership,” ANC spokesperson, Mahlengi Bhengu-Motshiri said in a statement on Sunday.
According to the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Practices Act (Precca), the former Eskom CEO was required to disclose any unlawful activity to police authorities .
“To date, the ANC is not aware of any action taken by Mr De Ruyter in this respect. The ANC urges Mr De Ruyter to fulfil his constitutional and legal obligations to officially report to the police any act of criminality or illegality he is aware of within the next seven days,” she continued.
“Failure by Mr De Ruyter to bring such information forward and report it in line with his obligations will result in the ANC laying Section 34 charges against him.”
— African National Congress (@MYANC) February 26, 2023