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Eskom loses R1bn a month to corruption, departing CEO De Ruyter says

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Eskom’s departing CEO said the stricken state-owned utility is losing R1bn a month to graft and theft committed by people often affiliated to the ANC.

Andre de Ruyter excoriated government officials’ conduct and commitment to fixing the energy crisis in an interview aired on Tuesday by e.tv. When asked by the interviewer whether Eskom was “a feeding trough for the ANC”, he said: “The evidence suggests that it is.”

Eskom announced on Wednesday De Ruyter will leave the company with immediate effect, more than a month before his scheduled end date on March 31.

De Ruyter has led Eskom for a turbulent three years, cracking down on corruption that pushed the company’s debt to more than R400bn and has led to frequent breakdowns of its coal-fired power plants, which produce almost all of South Africa’s electricity.

Vincent Magwenya, a spokesperson for President Cyril Ramaphosa, and Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri, a spokesperson for the ANC, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

“Over many years, corruption has systematically weakened the state, damaged key institutions and eroded the country’s social fabric,” Ramaphosa said in his weekly newsletter earlier this month. “We are determined to build a society defined by decency and integrity, that does not tolerate the plunder of public resources.”

The Eskom CEO’s interview came before an announcement on Wednesday by finance minister Enoch Godongwana that the government would take over part of Eskom’s debt provided certain conditions are met.

De Ruyter, speaking at a time when South Africans are suffering power cuts of as long as 12 hours a day, said he had failed to staunch power cuts, but had managed to reduce corruption, moved the company towards clean energy and started a process to split the utility into transmission, distribution and generation units.

Eskom is likely to cut 6,000 megawatts of power from the grid consistently during the winter months. The blackouts may be worse, he said.

“2023 is going to be a tough year,” he said.

De Ruyter described government delays on transitioning to clean energy as “inexplicable” and the authorities had shown little interest when he reported an attempt to poison him in December.

“It’s been quite a ride,” he said.

Source: TimesLive


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