Prove it or face suit: De Ruyter told

Pressure is mounting on embattled former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter to come clean on his corruption and looting claims amid accusations that he is fabricating stories to divert attention from his massive failure to end loadshedding and stabilise the power grid.

De Ruyter was forced out by the Eskom board this week after accusing, without providing any evidence, the ANC and its government ministers of stealing R1-billion a month and using Eskom as a feeding trough.

Chairperson Mpho Makwana disclosed that De Ruyter, who is said to have had no security clearance, resigned in December when he was due for a performance review.

De Ruyter this week used a television interview to allege, without revealing names, that a certain minister had benefited from the $8.5-billion received by Eskom from Cop26. It’s unclear why De Ruyter did not report the alleged corruption or lay criminal charges against the culprits as required by section 34 of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act of 2004.

De Ruyter presided over a disastrous tenure, which saw Eskom losing control of the grid and imposing crippling stage 6 loadshedding or 10-hour power blackouts a day.

Political parties, unions, energy commentators and some ANC members have all descended on the former Nampak and Sasol CEO, demanding accountability and proof.

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula rejected De Ruyter’s claims on Thursday, labelling the former CEO a questionable character who had failed to restore electricity to South Africa.

“If De Ruyter knows who is corrupt at Eskom, let him expose that. He must not say the ANC wants a piece of cake in renewable and [the] Just Transition [progamme]. I am challenging him, that if he has anything, he must come to me and he must go to the police.

“When you resign and there is a big failure written all over, you are not retiring as a martyr or victorious person. You are retiring because you have failed.”

Mbalula added that he would ask the ANC’s lawyers to send him a letter of demand and ask him to respond within 10 days.

The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) said it would press criminal charges against De Ruyter if he doesn’t produce evidence of his claims or sign sworn affidavits.

“We have written to [De Ruyter] to sign a sworn affidavit to say, ‘Minister so and so, on this particular day in the presence of the following people told me that when there are acts of corruption I must be tolerant and allow a little bit of eating.’

“Secondly, he must say to us, ‘This is how a billion rand is stolen from Eskom.’ He is potentially a whistleblower, but he must not just make allegations on television and disappear and tell us he has gone overseas,” Saftu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi told the SABC news.

African Transformation Movement spokesperson Zama Ntshona said they have asked parliament to summon De Ruyter to bring evidence of his claims to the portfolio committee on energy.

ANC activist Phapano Phasha wrote De Ruyter an open letter accusing him of being a coward.

“Despite your first-hand information about such acts of criminality, you overlooked this and were happy to be deployed by the same ‘corrupt’ ANC-led government. … All you wanted was to impose independent renewable energy companies as the primary source of energy at the power utility and close all coal-powered stations that electrify this country,” she said.

Energy analyst Tshepo Kgadima said De Ruyter should have never been hired in the first place. “André de Ruyter’s tenure as Eskom GCEO is indisputably a spectacular unmitigated disaster, without question. He should never have been hired in the first instance considering his equally disastrous tenures at Nampak and Sasol,” he said.

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