Staff need to get their mojo back, be proud to wear the Eskom blue, says CEO

Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter says that after years of feeling bad about their company, employees need to move to a high-performance culture they can be proud of.
Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter says that after years of feeling bad about their company, employees need to move to a high-performance culture they can be proud of.
Image: File / Velani Ludidi

Eskom’s CEO Andre de Ruyter seems determined to fix the power giant from the inside out.

In a virtual address where he discussed the power utility’s state of affairs, De Ruyter highlighted how it was important to restore the dignity of Eskom, not only to the public, government and international communities, but for the employees of the company.

He said they wanted to also build “a high-performance culture”.

“After a decade of state capture and working with an entity that inflicts load-shedding on the economy, Eskom employees need a lift,” De Ruyter said. This, however, would not come in the form of big salaries and bonuses, but rather by restoring the image of the parastatal.

“We have resuscitated our values and one of our values is integrity. That value did not enjoy prominence in the past based on how the business was previously run,” he said.

By restoring that value, Eskom employees would once again have pride in wearing “the blue Eskom overalls” and in the brand, de Ruyter said. “We have this huge undertaking of fixing an organisation that is barrelling down the highway at 120km/h while we are changing the configuration of the business in a very fundamental way,” De Ruyter said.

In his bid to clean up inside Eskom, De Ruyter shared several aspects of how this would be done. On procurement, De Ruyter said he was aware how fraud and corruption had shaken the company.

“We are not particularly good at how we buy and also the cost of our procurement. We say there are opportunities there for us to drive a harder bargain. This is going to be a key focus area; not only how we buy but what we buy.

“This area has been a cause for concern in terms of fraud in the past and there are still incidents of untoward behaviour in this space so we say there are good opportunities to improve efficiency on procurement,” he added.

As Eskom looks at moving away from using coal to provide power, the power giant said it was cognisant of the affect that this would have on many businesses and communities that were dependent on them.

“We are creating a new future ... But as we transition away from coal, we need to ensure that it’s a just transition,” de Ruyter said.

“For us to shut that door (on coal) overnight will simply not be equitable to those communities. As we move, we need to create a future for those communities, mine and contractors,” he said.

These talks were already under way with the department of trade & industry and other stakeholders to make plans on how Eskom’s coal plants can be repurposed to still be of service to those communities.

“We are very encouraged by the interest that has been shown by developmental financing institutions in facilitating this energy transition. We are in talks with the DTI about creating special economic zones to facilitate investments in building renewable components so that we can enhance local content and local entrepreneurial activity,” De Ruyter said. “We need to repurpose our existing plants and equip them with gas or other renewable energy and also equip them with storage.”

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