De Ruyter: 'Corruption didn’t end when Guptas departed from Lanseria'

Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter. File photo.
Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter. File photo.
Image: Freddy Mavunda/Business Day

Eskom CEO André de Ruyter says corruption is still rampant at the power utility with, syndicates operating within power stations.

“Eskom paid R80,000 for one knee guard, for example, due to the petty corruption that takes place,” he said at News24’s inaugural On the Record summit in Johannesburg on Thursday.

“There is a notion, somehow, that corruption ended when the Guptas departed Lanseria airport — that is not true. Corruption is still very much a part, unfortunately, of the organisation and manifests itself in quite interesting ways.

“You will issue a tender to improve control, for example on warehousing, whereby implementing bar coding. Bar coding is 1980s technology and [it] is very simple to make it work. And then you go to the market and responses come back and there is not a single tender that meets the qualifications set out.

“I think, to imagine that Eskom will be restored to what it was in 1980s when we delivered a new power station, something like every 13 months, I don’t think that will happen again. I think we need to adjust to the new reality: that a technology revolution is taking place in [the] electricity supply industry.”

There are huge opportunities for new investors and the power generation sector needs to be opened up, said De Ruyter. 

“I think, first of all, given the lack of leadership stability — 11 CEOs in 10 years — a culture had developed in [the] organisation of people keeping their heads down.”

Employees believed the current CEO would also go. “Let’s just keep our heads down and frankly not take it too seriously,” he said.

Though there are competent and “brilliant” people working at Eskom, De Ruyter said the utility had lost many skills.

“Eskom is a great recruiting ground for international head hunters, for example in the nuclear [energy] industry, many of our people are now working in the UAE, in the UK, the US and we will continue to lose people if we don’t address the certainty of an attractive future where people want to come and work.”

Eskom cannot buy electricity or build power stations on its own accord, he said. It needs to obtain permission to do so under the Electricity Regulation Act.

“We can’t sit, as [the] board of Eskom, and say we need more electricity and let’s build a plant. That is not part of our strategic options. Within those constraints we need, as a country, to add more capacity to the grid.

“Our job is to make available grid access as quickly as possible. We have identified 31,000ha of land across SA that we own, and that land has good grid access and we believe we can add seven or eight gigawatts of new capacity by making available this land to renewable energy investors.”


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