State capture pawns using race card at Eskom – analyst

Political analyst Andre Duvenhage suggests the recent move to probe André de Ruyter over racism allegations was emblematic of Eskom’s politically charged role in state capture.


Eskom’s “captors” are playing the race-card to push “corruption busting” chief executive officer (CEO) André de Ruyter out, says an analyst.

This as the National Union of Mineworkers has cast doubt on the integrity of the internal investigation the power utility is conducting into allegations of procurement irregularities and corruption against De Ruyter.

But as crisis after crisis hits the company’s highest offices, political analyst Andre Duvenhage suggests the recent move by the company to investigate its chief executive over racism allegations was emblematic of Eskom’s politically charged role in state capture. De Ruyter has been accused of racism in some of the hiring and procurement decisions he has made at the company.

Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) was asked to investigate De Ruyter by suspended Eskom chief procurement officer Solly Tshitangano.

In his letter to Scopa, Tshitangano alleged that De Ruyter flouted supply chain policies in order to make irregular appointments. Scopa dropped the investigation at the behest of Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan.

ALSO READ: Eskom investigates allegations of racism against CEO Andre de Ruyter

These events, says Duvenhage, come at a time when decisive action is required for Eskom’s twin tasks of cleaning out corruption at the company and finally providing cheap reliable power. All this in an economy that could not afford the rolling power cuts the country was currently facing.

“I do not believe that there was any racism involved but it was simply action that was necessary being taken against an employee that was incompetent or that has questionable connections that suggest irregularity,” Duvenhage argues, adding that Eskom is at the centre of the storyline of state capture unfolding at the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture.

“It is not only the politics of former president Jacob Zuma which come into play but that of President Cyril Ramaphosa. I believe Ramaphosa’s intention is to get Eskom back on its feet and there is political will for that to happen, but I think there still people at Eskom or who have influence who are making it difficult for [De Ruyter],” says Duvenhage.

ALSO READ: ‘No faith in Eskom’s racism probe into De Ruyter’-Numsa

“Now when you make a rational decision in a politicised environment like Eskom, your decision will be politicised and I think they are now playing the racial card in that same vein. The real problem here was that there was a manager who needed to go because he was not meeting the crucial outcome targets of his position.”

Last week, National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa) expressed its lack of faith into Eskom’s investigation into De Ruyter, following the decision by Parliament to drop its own planned probe into the matter.

But unlike the Numsa, energy analyst Ted Blom says he smells a rat in the entire process, not because of procedural issues but because of Tshitangano’s suspension.

“Having seen the 21 trumped up charges against Solly, I would have thought that there should be 44,000 other Eskom staff in the front of the queue,” said Blom, suggesting the manager was simply being scapegoated to the benefit of a more sinister agenda.

“Why did [De Ruyter] wait for 21 charges before he took action? Surely from a performance management perspective, his hands are not clean. Or were the charges trumped up by his henchman he has doing his dirty work?” Blom questioned. “What is Eskom hiding to want to get rid of Solly?”

Meanwhile, news that Eskom’s IT supplier Oracle wants to withdraw their services from the utility spells more load shedding woes for South Africans, Blom suggested.

The two companies have taken the matter to court, following the state entity’s failure to pay the service provider. In court papers, Eskom admits that operations at the power producer would be severely hindered by Oracle’s swift departure.

The Johannesburg High Court rejected Eskom’s urgent application to interdict Oracle from withdrawing its services, leaving the future of the utility’s operations and the country suspended in darkness.