De Ruyter was no longer interested in the broader good of Eskom — chair

10 May 2023 - 22:21
By Andisiwe Makinana
Eskom board chair Mpho Makwana.
Image: Screengrab/Eskom Eskom board chair Mpho Makwana.

Eskom chair Mpho Makwana says the utility’s former CEO Andre de Ruyter “had to go” as his bombshell interview with eNCA had brought the company into disrepute.

The day after the interview, De Ruyter, who was serving three months notice after resigning, was released from his duties with immediate effect.

Makwana told parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) on Wednesday that shortly after the interview was aired, the board convened a special meeting to discuss the implications of De Ruyter’s utterances.

De Ruyter was afforded an opportunity to put his perspective before the board. In that conversation, he stated that if the board considered the contents of the interview to have caused embarrassment to Eskom, he would be agreeable to a variation of the terms of his then notice period, which was March 31 after his end of service date had been extended to February 28 as per his letter of resignation in December.

The board decided that some of De Ruyter’s utterances had brought the company into disrepute and resolved to agree to a variation of his notice period to the original February 28 date and released him from his duties with immediate effect.

When the board said De Ruyter had brought the company into disrepute, it was because a number of the allegations he made misled the public into thinking they were new developments that had been shared first with the board — but that was not the case, said Makwana.

“The matter of cartels predates this board; it was already a matter under investigation.”

De Ruyter had also sought to mislead the public by suggesting that there was no action being taken internally by Eskom, according to Makwana.  But, said Makwana, a number of disciplinary hearings had taken place since the establishment of a state capture task team and 26 former executives, including a former Eskom CEO, were arrested in relation to the allegations.

“So, there was nothing new, these matters were already in court,” he said.

Makwana said though the board had previously asked De Ruyter to stay on for hand-over, it became clear during the notice period that he was no longer interested in the broader good of Eskom. And the board did what any board would have done when a CEO no longer serves the best interest of that board. 

Makwana warned against “a broad view” that sought to position De Ruyter as a victim and a whistle-blower. He said contrary to De Ruyter’s claim that the Eskom board was informed about the intelligence operation in November 2022, this was not true.

Even the Eskom head of security was not aware, neither was she consulted and engaged in the procurement of a security company to conduct intelligence gathering.

The new board’s first knowledge of the report was from media reports and when the board asked about its whereabouts, the executives including the head of legal categorically said they had had no sight or knowledge of it.

“As a board we don’t have anything in writing, in a report or any format that articulates the details of this intelligence report other than what we read or heard in the media. It was not an Eskom process as even De Ruyter indicated, it was a privately funded intelligence gathering report.”

Makwana said the internal state capture and corruption task team has been tasked with investigating the information that flowed from De Ruyter’s assertions. Further, the board has resolved to have a legal independent panel appointed to guide it on the appropriate execution of its fiduciary duties and responsibilities in this regard, in a quest towards restoring the company’s reputation and corporate integrity.

During his appearance before Scopa last month, De Ruyter accused the Makwana-led board of overreach, saying non-executive directors immersed themselves in operational detail, including bypassing him to hold meetings with his subordinates.

He said this contributed to his decision to resign from the power utility in December. 


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