Eskom board approves probe into racism allegations against CEO De Ruyter

Eskom said the claims not only brought the utility into disrepute, but they threatened to distract from efforts to restore operational and financial sustainability at the scandal-plagued state-owned enterprise.

Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter. Picture: @Eskom_SA/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom's board of directors has given the green light for an investigation into allegations of racism against the utility's CEO Andre de Ruyter.

Eskom on Tuesday said the claims not only brought the utility into disrepute, but they threatened to distract from efforts to restore operational and financial sustainability at the scandal-plagued state-owned enterprise.

Spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said: “The board will appoint an independent senior counsel to conduct the investigation. The counsel will be empowered to interview any person that may be of assistance in the probe and consider any evidence and will then report back to the board and make recommendations.”

The board, in a statement, said it was committed to transparency and would give updates on the probe.

“The board unanimously and unequivocally stands against racism and sexism, and for transformation and employment equity. Simultaneously, however, the board has instructed the executive to promote a high-performance culture to enable the critically important turnaround at Eskom to be delivered as soon as possible”.

PURGING BLACK SUPPLIERS?

Last week, Parliament’s finance watchdog said it would investigate allegations that De Ruyter and other managers had been purging black suppliers.

The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) on Wednesday had to postpone a hearing with Eskom on expansions and deviations for the financial year to deal with the matter.

Scopa received a letter from Eskom chief procurement officer (CPO) Solly Tshitangano, who had been suspended by De Ruyter.

READ: Parly to launch Eskom-related inquiry against CEO De Ruyter

The finance watchdog said that the correspondence received from Tshitangano had a material bearing on the matters it would have dealt with in that hearing.

Some of the allegations contained in the letter were brought to the attention of the Eskom board as far back as February last year.

The investigation will also include procurement and contract management in general.

Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa: "The seriousness of them is that allegations by the CPO have been made against the CEO, so two chiefs is an issue."

Eskom chairperson Malegapuru Makgoba said that the matter was raised with the board more than a year ago.

"I think the history of this matter stretches obviously over a year and there have been exchanges of letters to myself, to the office of the president, the office of the minister and so forth."

The committee said De Ruyter would be granted an opportunity to respond to the allegations.

Additional reporting by Babalo Ndenze.

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