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New Eskom CEO should get 100% support

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Calitz probably baulked at taking over a parastatal which is mired in debt and where he would have to carefully navigate a sea of politics

THE NEWS on Monday that Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has appointed Andre de Ruyter as Eskom’s new chief executive officer came like a bolt out of the blue.

De Ruyter, currently at the helm of packaging conglomerate Nampak, will take over at Eskom on January 15.

His appointment was a surprise because most commentators expected former Eskom executive, and until recently chief executive of LNG Canada, Andy Calitz to be announced as Phakamani Hadebe’s successor.

The most likely scenario is that Calitz’s name was floated like a kite by government insiders to see the response from the ANC’s various constituencies.

Calitz probably baulked at taking over a parastatal which is mired in debt and where he would have to carefully navigate a sea of politics.

The SA Energy Forum, which is a lobby group consisting of fringe political groupings like Transform RSA, Black First Land First and the Coal Transportation Forum, slammed De Ruyter’s appointment, pointing to Nampak’s declining share price and the fact that he is white.

Those who have for years been behind the rot at Eskom can’t be happy.

De Ruyter will have to fly out of the blocks from January 15.

He will have to oversee the split of Eskom into three units: generation, transmission and distribution.

Most importantly, De Ruyter will have to ensure that the lights stay on for Eskom to manage to pay off its R450 billion debt.

While there’s talk of privatising SAA, Eskom is too strategic an asset and crucial for the growth and development of South Africa’s economy to be in private hands.

What South Africans demand is that their taxes not be used to prop up a state-owned company all because of poor management.

De Ruyter might not be the silver bullet, but his appointment should be welcomed, and most importantly, he should be supported by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration.

The alternatives are too ghastly to consider.