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Eskom board probes racism allegations against CEO

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The Eskom Board will appoint an independent Senior Counsel to conduct the investigation into allegation of racism levelled against Group Chief Executive André de Ruyter

Andre de Ruyter, Group Chief Executive of state-owned power utility Eskom. Picture: REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham

Durban – The Eskom Board of Directors is launching an investigation into allegations of racism against its embattled Group Chief Executive (GCE) André de Ruyter.

It comes on the back of a sustained campaign by elements within Eskom and a supplier outside of Eskom who have accused De Ruyter of purging black suppliers and undermining the role of black managers.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Eskom board said that they had decided to initiate the investigation in order to establish the veracity and the basis to the allegation.

“The allegation not only brings Eskom into disrepute, but it also threatens to detract and distract the focus of the Executive Team and the GCE in particular from their critical job of restoring Eskom to operational and financial sustainability,” the statement read.

“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 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”.

Recently, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts received a letter, in which Chief Procurement Officer Solly Tshitangano accuses De Ruyter of ‘getting rid of black suppliers’ at Eskom.

In addition, Nothemba Mlonzi of Econ Oil who had a R5.2-billion fuel supply contract cancelled by Eskom had made similar accusations of black suppliers being sidelined under De Ruyter.

The Eskom board in its statement said that “in the event that anyone has any reason to feel aggrieved because of racist or sexist behaviour, this must be raised by using the well-established internal grievance processes, which will ensure that such allegations are properly investigated, and if found to be warranted, will result in disciplinary action in accordance with labour law, against the perpetrator of such unacceptable behaviour”.

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