Eskom’s mandate too serious for it to deal with ‘frivolous’ race complaints, says board chair

29 June 2021 - 18:13
By andisiwe makinana AND Andisiwe Makinana
Eskom has urged employees and labour unions to put the national interest first. File photo.
Image: Reuters/Sumaya Hisham Eskom has urged employees and labour unions to put the national interest first. File photo.

Eskom board chairperson Prof Malegapuru Makgoba says Eskom, and especially its group chief executive Andre de Ruyter, should be focusing on turning the company around instead of having to deal with “frivolous” racism allegations like those made by its former chief procurement officer Solly Tshitangano.

Makgoba told parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) that the public’s expectations of the power utility were “too serious” for it to be left to deal with “frivolous complaints”.

Eskom was briefing the committee about the outcomes of an investigation into racism, nepotism and abuse of power allegations levelled against De Ruyter. He was cleared of all the allegations.

In his report, advocate Ishmael Semenya said Tshitangano disavowed that he accused De Ruyter of racism in relation to allegations about non-performance De Ruyter made against him.

“The report is there clearing Mr Andre de Ruyter and I think we should put our attention to the task the group chief executive must do and focus on the task Eskom needs to do, which is to transform in a fundamental manner,” said Makgoba.

He said Eskom has to focus on a new, high performance culture and stop using the race card as an excuse for anything that happens in the organisation.

“The expectations of the public from Eskom are too serious to be left to these kinds of frivolous complaints brought by our former chief procurement officer,” said Makgoba.

Scopa announced in March that it would hold an inquiry into allegations of racism and financial mismanagement against De Ruyter. It later suspended plans for the inquiry to allow the Eskom-initiated inquiry to run its course.

Scopa did this at the request of public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan to avoid parallel inquiries.

On Tuesday, EFF MP Veronica Mente said Scopa will have to conduct its own investigation on matters relating to expenditure framework and irregularities with the public finance management act at Eskom and finance regulations that were allegedly flouted.

“As the committee we have to continue with our own investigation on matters raised pertaining to these complaints,” Mente said, describing the matters as “very serious”.