Editorial: New Eskom CEO must ignore the noise and focus on the job

André de Ruyter
André de Ruyter

South Africa is in crisis. The economy is stagnant. Unemployment is high. Inequality is growing.

State-owned enterprises are in the intensive care unit and are only surviving because of constant bailouts from the state.

Hospitals are overcrowded and have no medicines, and patients are sometimes forced to bring their own linen.

Millions of children learn in dilapidated conditions.

We have a bloated public service, which fails the citizens.

The likelihood of systems being down at government offices are equal to, or higher than finding clean, running water in taps in Stinkwater.

That is the state of South Africa.

We all agree that we need capable people to lead us in the right direction and get institutions working and the economy booming, while ensuring that everyone has an equal chance of getting better services.

But when André de Ruyter was announced as the new chief executive of the broke Eskom, all hell broke loose.

His appointment was criticised for being anti-transformation and was likened to the re-emergence of the old order.

Regardless of how we want to frame this appointment, Eskom needs a leader to steer this entity in the right direction.

Eskom is a national asset, and key to the country’s prospects for economic growth. Its dysfunction is failing the economy and stunting investment.

Yes, we can cry about anti-transformation. But the truth is, we have had various executives in charge of Eskom, white and black.

The utility has continued to fail, either because those at the helm were not up to the task or because the Zuma brigade was hell-bent on bankrupting it.

We all owe it to South Africa to allow De Ruyter the space to do his work. We can watch him closely and criticise his decisions or nondecisions.

Judgement must be based on his work. Playing the race game will not help in this humungous project.

To De Ruyter we say: Just shut out the noise and get on with the task at hand.

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