De Ruyter shows Ramaphosa’s government just as corrupt as Zuma’s
It’s apparent that Ramaphosa’s government is no less corrupt than that of his criminal predecessor.
Former Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) at Eskom, Andre De Ruyter. Gallo images
It’s beginning to feel as if we’re adrift on the political equivalent of that infamous 19th century ghost ship, Mary Celeste.
For the past more than five years, the country’s been floating listlessly under the nominal control of President Cyril Ramaphosa, a man who less than three months ago was ready to throw in the towel and resign.
The most urgent tasks facing the president – massive political corruption and the collapse of the national power grid – are largely unaddressed.
It’s clear from Eskom chief executive André de Ruyter’s explosive television interview last week that the two problems are inextricably intertwined.
The hour-long eNCA interview conducted by Annika Larsen is possibly the most important piece of journalism yet to be aired on SA television. Not solely because of the content. Much of what De Ruyter told eNCA has been in the public domain for a long time.
In January 2021, he made public his concerns over endemic procurement fraud, collusion with suppliers and the awarding of contracts to ANC-connected entities. He also repeatedly publicly catalogued the sabotage of Eskom’s operations, the disinterest of the police, the prosecuting authority and magistrates. But what is new is politically explosive.
It reveals Ramaphosa’s soft-shoe shuffle around corruption as the sham it is. It also dangerously threatens the future flow of looted funds the ANC elite and the continued daily functioning of the party depend on.
De Ruyter paints a picture of pervasive criminality uncovered by Eskom’s own exhaustive investigations. Two Cabinet ministers are implicated, but despite De Ruyter reporting this to a member of Ramaphosa’s Cabinet – De Ruyter’s political master Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has now admitted it was he – the response was a shrug of the shoulders.
On another occasion, De Ruyter unsuccessfully asked for enhanced controls over the $8.5 billion (about R152.2 billion) of funds being contributed by the European Union, the US and Britain to fund South Africa’s Just Energy Transition programme.
He was told by a minister: “To pursue the greater good, you have to enable some people to eat a little bit.”
De Ruyter’s final public act leaves the ANC, the voting public and international investors and donors no place to hide. It’s apparent that Ramaphosa’s government is no less corrupt than that of his criminal predecessor.
De Ruyter’s three years at Eskom were torrid. He was insulted, taunted, undermined, scapegoated and publicly humiliated by ANC apparatchiks. His life and those of his family members were threatened. He was poisoned. Yet, there’s no bitterness, spite or defensiveness in the interview. This is not a political hit job.
On the contrary, the former Eskom chief executive acknowledges his shortcomings. The likely veracity of De Ruyter’s explosive claims is bolstered by the initially muted reaction from the two people most identified with the supposedly anti-corruption reformist grouping: Gordhan and Ramaphosa.
After more than a day’s silence, Gordhan conceded he was the minister to whom De Ruyter had reported how the tendrils of corruption extended into the Cabinet. He could not, Gordhan argued, do anything about “allusions”. Ramaphosa took even longer to react.
Eventually, at a state reception, he was pinned down by a reporter. His response was that he was disappointed that De Ruyter had not simply reported “whatever he knows” to the police.
It placed us in “a world of rumours and hearsay. Then we start looking at each other with a great deal of suspicion”, said Ramaphosa, oozing concern.
fNaughty, naughty Mr De Ruyter. He surely wouldn’t want lots of nasty suspicion poisoning the ANC corridors of power?