ANCYL, EFF slam naming of De Ruyter as new Eskom CEO

The ANCYL task team has criticised the appointment of Andre de Ruyter as the new CEO of Eskom.
The ANCYL task team has criticised the appointment of Andre de Ruyter as the new CEO of Eskom.
Image: Geoff Brown

The ANC Youth League task team has slammed the appointment of Andre de Ruyter as Eskom CEO, saying it was confirmation of the "deep root of white privilege" in SA's boardrooms, a view that was echoed by the EFF.

De Ruyter, who is currently the Nampak CEO, is set to take over the reins at the troubled power utility in January, making him the 10th Eskom CEO in 10 years.

The EFF took issue with the appointment, saying it was racist, irrational, shameful and "a clear demonstration of a deliberate intent to collapse Eskom to rationalise privatisation of SA's most important strategic asset".

In a statement by ANCYL task team convenor Tandi Mahambehlala, the league said the appointment of De Ruyter could be explained only "in the darker corners of cronyism which seem to be perpetuated by the minister of public enterprises [Pravin Gordhan]".

De Ruyter's appointment was announced on Monday, and it came as a shock to many as his name had not been among those rumoured to be front-runners for the job.

"De Ruyter's dismal track record at Sasol and Nampak makes it inconceivable that he should be elevated to salvage this struggling [state-owned entity]. There exists no sound basis for such an appointment unless [Gordhan is] committed to collapsing Eskom completely.

"Last month we witnessed the resignation of the joint CEOs at Sasol, Bongani Nqwababa and Stephen Cornell, following the disaster of a project at Lake Charles. The Lake Charles saga was engineered by De Ruyter," the ANCYL statement read.

Mahambehlala said if there was truth to the allegations that De Ruyter "is well-known for his creative reporting and cooking of the books", then South Africans should brace themselves for a larger scandal than the catastrophe at Steinhoff.

"The real problem is that the minister [Gordhan] has now given him an opportunity to erode shareholder value that belongs to the public and the many taxpayers who work hard to keep Eskom afloat.

"The active disregard of the many talented women or black candidates in this process confirms the gender and racial bias that characterises South African boardrooms," the statement continued.

The spokesperson of the EFF, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, accused Gordhan of spearheading a "project" set to undermine black executives at state-owned enterprises and Africans in general.

"This racist project does not seek to undermine Africans as far as it concerns management of SOEs, but as important role players in the economy. It seeks to reinforce the falsehood that must be dismissed with the contempt it deserves, the idea that Africans are inherently corrupt," said Ndlozi.

The ANC welcomed De Ruyter's appointment, urging South Africans to "come together and play our part in rebuilding Eskom".

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said the party was satisfied with the process followed in appointing him.

"The ANC commends the board of Eskom and the government as the shareholder for the rigour they applied in arriving at Mr De Ruyter's selection for this onerous role.

"The ANC wishes Mr De Ruyter well . and assures him of the governing party's support for the efforts he will lead to set Eskom on a footing that will enable our economy to grow and contribute to energy security in the SADC region."

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