Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter has left Eskom after a “special board meeting” on Wednesday night.
In a statement, Eskom said it and De Ruyter had reached a “mutual agreement” about his early departure.
De Ruyter had tendered his resignation in December 2022 and was scheduled to serve his notice until the end of March.
“The board further resolved that Mr de Ruyter will not be required to serve the balance of his notice period but that he will be released from his position with immediate effect,” the board said.
His exit comes after he was slammed by public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan for “meddling” in politics instead of focusing on ending load-shedding.
“What’s important is that CEOs of any entity, including Eskom, should not be involved in open political debates or assertions, and where they have political views, that is their private business and they are welcome to express those views privately.
“But it is the responsibility of any CEO of any entity, as far as I am concerned, to keep their focus on the job at hand and make sure that is done as proficiently as possible,” said the minister.
Gordhan, who appeared before parliament’s portfolio committee on public enterprises on Wednesday, was referring to a controversial eNCA interview where De Ruyter made explosive allegations about the inner workings of the power utility and his experience as its captain.
De Ruyter, who sat down with Anika Larsen, was asked if he thought Eskom was the “feeding trough” for the ANC, to which he replied: “I would say the evidence suggests that it is.”
“I expressed my concern to a senior government minister about attempts, in my view, to water down governance around the $8.5bn that, by and large to Eskom’s intervention, we got at COP26, and the response was essentially that you must be pragmatic. In order to pursue the greater good, you have to enable some people to eat a little bit,” he said.
“So yes, I think it’s entrenched.”
Asked what happened when he reported his concerns and ongoing criminal activity at Eskom, he said: “So when we pointed out that there was one particular high-level politician that was involved in this, the minister in question looked at a senior officials and said, ‘I guess it was inevitable that it would come out anyways.’”
To De Ruyter, this suggested that “was not news” to them.
Asked whether the said minister was still in the cabinet, De Ruyter laughed and said: “Let’s not go there because of the risk.
Responding, Gordhan said De Ruyter’s comments were “unfortunate”.
“I think it’s a well-known and undeniable fact that corruption has been a feature both in Eskom and many other entities across government and of course the private sector.
“That became the subject, in part, of what we know as the Zondo commission. This corruption, as we have learnt, is committed by individuals for their own benefits, and that distinction must be drawn between individuals and the agreed search for improper benefits through various tenders and contracts.
“We all know that state capture, in the formal sense, might have ended, but corruption is still a scourge that we, both as parliament and certainly as the shareholder in government, want to eradicate from our entities, and Eskom is no exception.
“In this context, obviously under the new board that was appointed in 2018 by government, then chaired by the late Jabu Mabuza, you will recall he was also the acting CEO for a while, and a lot of good work was initiated to push back on and recover funds which were lost as a result of corruption during the state capture era.
“Clearly lots of people have been reported to the law enforcement authorities for alleged involvement in one way or other for acts of corruption or fraud.”
He added: “It’s rather unfortunate that an important fight … in respect of [ridding] our institutions of corruption, is now caught up in an unnecessary controversy, it would seem.”