With the country facing rolling blackouts due to Eskom’s inability to keep the lights on, CEO Andre de Ruyter on Thursday apologised to South Africans for the continued power cuts.
“I apologise to the nation for the hardship that we continue to inflict as a result of load shedding. But bear with us, we are working on this and of course, as a whole, South Africa is also procuring additional capacity, which we are in dire need of,” De Ruyter said in an interview with Talk Radio 702.
Since Tuesday Eskom has been implementing stage two load shedding due to breakdowns of generating units at its aging fleet of coal-fired power stations.
The power utility said stage two load shedding would last until Friday 10pm.
De Ruyter said Eskom was struggling with additional generation capacity due to its old power stations.
He said while they caught up on maintenance, load shedding would remain a reality for a number of years until the final unit at Kusile power station comes online by the end of 2023.
“I think capacity will remain constrained while we catch up on maintenance and while we add new capacity. That’s the hard reality I think we face,” he said.
“My chief operating officer and I are pushing the organisation as hard as we can. People are working extraordinary hours to bring units back.
“But we simply cannot perform miracles overnight.”
Asked whether load shedding was due to Eskom’s lack of maintenance or poor management, De Ruyter said it was a combination of things causing power cuts.
“I think it’s a bit of all of the above, to be frank. I think what we have seen is that load shedding has regrettably now been with South Africans for the past 15 years. So this is not a new phenomenon. We have been working hard catching up on maintenance that had been deferred and postponed.
“When I assumed my role in January last year, we communicated that during this so-called reliability maintenance recovery programme, there would be an increase in the risk of load shedding while we do this maintenance.”
De Ruyter cleared of racism allegations
On Wednesday, the Eskom board cleared De Ruyter of allegations of racial discrimination, abuse of power and other irregularities following an investigation by advocate Ishmael Semenya.
The allegations were made by Eskom’s suspended chief procurement officer, Solly Tshitangano.
De Ruyter welcomed the investigation’s findings and denied Tshitangano’s claims that he was purging black executives at the parastatal.
“I think the matter has been fully ventilated and properly investigated. I welcome the findings that advocate Semenya made that the allegations are entirely baseless,” he said.
“I think people who know me and people who have worked with me will concur that I do not behave in a racist manner. In fact, this has been corroborated by the board and supported by my executive committee, which I certainly think is the most diverse team that I’ve worked with during my 30-year career.”