‘Eskom requires a fixer’: Mantashe denies accusing De Ruyter of trying to overthrow government
'My description of De Ruyter was that this is a good manager,' says the Mineral Resources and Energy Minister.
Eskom CEO, André de Ruyter speaks during an interview on 15 November 2021. Picture: Gallo Images/Rapport/Deon Raath
Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has denied accusing outgoing Eskom CEO André de Ruyter of trying to overthrow government.
Earlier this month, Mantashe claimed that Eskom was attempting to “overthrow the state” by not dealing with load shedding.
He also took a dig at De Ruyter, comparing him to a “policeman” who is focused on “chasing criminals, ” without a grasp of Eskom’s challenges.
Speaking to Radio 702 on Tuesday, Mantashe seemingly defended his comments on De Ruyter, who has since resigned.
“If you recall many people say I said things about De Ruyter, but actually my description of De Ruyter was that this is a good manager [however] you are deploying him to an institution that requires a fixer.
“So that means there’s a mismatch of skills to the challenges facing this institution and that is not an issue about De Ruyter, it is an issue of a philosophy of appointing any leadership to any institution,” he said.
Mantashe also confirmed that the CEO position would be advertised, which is going to be “oversubscribed”.
De Ruyter’s last day at Eskom will be 31 March 2023.
‘Abuse of government’
The minister said he did not accuse De Ruyter of overthrowing government.
“I accused Eskom [as a whole]. You know when that institution subjects [the country] to load shedding, it is pitting society against a sitting government.
“When citizens protest against the government and overthrow it, it will be justified because of the actions of an institution which is state-owned and doesn’t take seriously the importance of providing [energy].
“To have 22 000 megawatts idling cannot be corrected by any government department, it can only be corrected by Eskom…. that’s why [the power utility] must employ top class managers to run it and they must do their job to generate energy,” Mantashe continued.
He further said that government is “an object for abuse”.
“Eskom has a responsibility in terms of the law to generate energy, transmit it and distribute it and when it can’t do that it blames government. That is [an] abuse of government.”
‘Not burning diesel’
He further defended former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe’s tenure at the power utility.
“I think this is a wrong example because when you criticised Brian Molefe for anything, it can be for state capture, but if we assess his performance when he was CEO during that period there was no load shedding.
“Many people say it’s because Brian Molefe and Matshela Koko were not burning diesel like we doing now.”
The country is currently on Stage 4 load shedding, and it will remain in place for the remainder of the week.
At the same time, the power utility has no money for diesel to keep the lights on after having spent R11.2 billion on the liquid fuel in six months.
While Eskom last month received 50 million litres of diesel from PetroSA for the short term, the power utility asked the National Treasury for money to buy more.
Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana has declined to come to Eskom’s rescue.