Defend our Democracy slams attacks on ex-Eskom CEO André de Ruyter

Former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter recently claimed "evidence suggests" Eskom is a "feeding trough" for the ruling party. File photo.
Former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter recently claimed "evidence suggests" Eskom is a "feeding trough" for the ruling party. File photo.
Image: Deon Raath

The anti-corruption group Defend our Democracy has expressed concern about corruption claims made by former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter in his explosive interview, and slammed the ANC for directing the focus away from alleged corruption at the embattled entity.

De Ruyter, who sat down with Annika Larsen on Wednesday, was asked if he Eskom was a “feeding trough” for the ANC, to which he replied: “I would say the evidence suggests that it is.”

“I expressed my concern to a senior government minister about attempts, in my view, to water down governance about the $8.5bn that, by and large to Eskom’s intervention, we got at COP26, and the response was essentially that you must be pragmatic. To pursue the greater good, you have to enable some people to eat a little bit.” 

“So yes, I think it’s entrenched,” he said.

Asked what happened when he reported his concerns and ongoing criminal activity at Eskom, he said: “So when we pointed out there was one particular high-level politician involved in this, the minister in question looked at senior officials and said, ‘I guess it was inevitable that it would come out anyway’.”

On Friday Defend our Democracy said it was “troubling that instead of dealing with the substance of De Ruyter’s startling interview — in particular the damning allegations of ongoing corruption and capture in the energy sector — some politicians have instead attacked De Ruyter.”

De Ruyter faced criticism, largely from the ANC and ministers, after his explosive sit-down. The ANC has threatened legal action against him over the allegations he made.

“What could have been an opportunity for uncovering alleged corruption and capture  instead became an opportunity to close political ranks in a bid to protect the image of the governing party. Through the Zondo commission of inquiry, the South African public has come to understand how toxic politics enable and entrench corruption and capture.

“Therefore hinting that de Ruyter should not have spoken out because his views waded into the political arena ignores the pervading political culture in South Africa cannot be separated from the crisis the country faces”.

Defend our Democracy said the ANC could no longer, as it used to, “try to separate and absolve itself of blame for the state of Eskom”.

“It is, after all, a member of the governing party who serves as president of the country, and its members who serve as ministers in charge of public enterprises and energy, all of whom have in some way been central to decision and policy making in relation to Eskom.

“Whatever personal political views De Ruyter has expressed, this should not be allowed to cloud the case he makes about alleged corruption, criminal syndicates and mafias up to high levels of government which are in part responsible for the energy crisis and extreme levels of load-shedding the country is facing”.

The organisation called on government and the ANC to focus on “rooting out the corruption” at Eskom rather than focus their attack on De Ruyter.

It said the expectation would have been that those in cabinet and parliament would have called for an investigation into the allegations.

Instead “the swift attack on De Ruyter sends a message to the contrary”.

“Defend our Democracy calls on De Ruyter to take the information about alleged corruption and suspected mafia networks to the Hawks. While his interview does make mention of sharing information with law enforcement agencies, it remains unclear if high-level political corruption was reported, as should have been done, irrespective of the actual or perceived incompetencies of the state in investigating and prosecuting corruption.

“We also urge the former CEO to — where it does not hinder a potential investigation — make public any further information  he has. It is in the interests of the public, for instance, to know which ministers he reportedly alerted about alleged corruption.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa was r urged “to outline how the next CEO of Eskom and the board of the power utility will be insulated from political attacks, and what will the government be doing to ensure the corruption allegations brought forward by De Ruyter are investigated”.

Defend our Democracy called on the state and governing party “to for once put aside vitriolic politics and simply fix the mess that is to a large extent of their own making”.


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