The ANC has issued a threat to take legal action against De Ruyter following the incendiary claims he made during a television interview.
Also read: André de Ruyter steps down as Eskom’s CEO
According to Fikile Mbalula, the secretary-general of the ANC, the ruling party’s legal representatives will send a letter to De Ruyter, demanding evidence to support his allegations, within a period of 7 to 10 days.
Mbalula said, “We will challenge him for saying our party is corrupt and failing to prove how. I am not going to wait for some parliamentary committee to summon him. I am going to write to him through our lawyers. He must prove within 7 to 10 days what he said.”
In December 2022, De Ruyter submitted his resignation, alleging that he had been poisoned with cyanide. Although he was supposed to remain as the CEO until the end of March, the Eskom board declared on Wednesday, 22 February 2023, that he would be departing with immediate effect.
Eskom announced this morning, 24 February 2023, that Calib Cassim would be appointed as interim CEO with immediate effect. Cassim will lead the Eskom management team until further notice.
During his television interview with journalist Annika Larsen, De Ruyter was questioned about whether Eskom was being utilised as a means for the ANC to gain financial benefits, to which he responded that there was proof to support this claim.
He further accused political forces of meddling in a transaction that involved France, Germany, the UK, the US, and the EU, which aimed to provide R150 billion in aid to assist South Africa in transitioning away from coal, in October 2022.
“I expressed my concern to a senior government minister about attempts, in my view, to water down governance around the $8.5bn that, by and large through Eskom’s intervention, we got at COP26, and the response was essentially that you must be pragmatic. In order to pursue the greater good, you have to enable some people to eat a little bit.”
“So when we pointed out that there was one particular high-level politician that was involved in this, the minister in question looked at senior officials and said, ‘I guess it was inevitable that it would come out anyways,” said De Ruyter.
The ANC criticised the interview, stating that “there are official channels in place, for all government organizations, which facilitate communication between executives, boards, and ministries, and this applies to Eskom as well.”
Pravin Gordhan, the Minister of Public Enterprises, attempted to restrict De Ruyter, affirming that CEOs “should refrain from participating in political discussions” and that their political opinions are their own private matter.
Meanwhile, John Steenhuisen, the leader of the DA, stated that his party would file an urgent application under the Promotion of Access to Information Act to compel Eskom to divulge information concerning the ANC’s role in the “plunder and collapse” of Eskom, and to name those involved.
According to Daniel Silke, a political analyst who spoke with the Cape Argus, De Ruyter’s interview represents the most severe criticism to date of the interconnections between the state, Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration, and the possibility of corruption within Eskom.
Silke said, “It was an extremely damaging and embarrassing account which undermines government’s message of renewal and attempts to reel in foreign investment and private sector investment, not only into the energy space but also into the broader infrastructure development of South Africa.”
Dawie Roodt, an economist, along with Silke and other commentators, argued that the accusations made by such a high-ranking figure at Eskom necessitated action from the president in the form of appointing a commission of inquiry, which must complete its investigation within a brief timeframe, possibly even a month, and present its recommendations.
The broadcast of De Ruyter’s explosive interview aired on the night before the National Budget speech, during which it was revealed that the Treasury would be assuming R254 billion of Eskom’s debt.
Update: André de Ruyter out, Calib Cassim in as Eskom’s interim CEO
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