The ANC has thrown its weight behind the appointment of Andre de Ruyter as the new CEO of Eskom, saying the task of rebuilding the debt-laden power utility must now begin with "urgency and with unity".
De Ruyter, who previously headed up JSE-listed packaging company Nampak, will take over the reins at Eskom in mid-January 2020. Eskom has been without a permanent CEO for over four months since Phakamani Hadebe resigned at the end of July citing the "unimaginable demands" of the job.
Eskom is beset with financial, governance and operational challenges, including a group debt burden of about R450bn, and was last month forced to implement load shedding.
In a statement released on Monday evening, the ANC said the appointment of a permanent CEO would strengthen Eskom's capacity to deliver reliable energy.
"The responsibility accepted by Mr De Ruyter is one that must be shared by all South Africans whose well-being depends on the well-being of the energy utility," the party said.
"The ANC wishes De Ruyter well in leading the management and staff in turning around the fortunes of a national asset that plays a critical role in the country's economy."
The party said he could be assured of its support.
Democratic Alliance chief whip Natasha Mazzone, in a statement, said De Ruyter had "an unenviable task" ahead of him. His priorities should include stabilising Eskom's debt and ensuring a secure electricity supply, she said.
"With experience in both the private and public sectors, Mr. de Ruyter has a wealth of experience and we implore upon him to use this experience to set Eskom on the right course to recovery," she said, adding that he should work to break the utility's "monopoly over the energy sector".
The Economic Freedom Fighters on Monday dismissed De Ruyter's appointment as "anti-transformation and racist", calling it "a clear demonstration of deliberate intent to collapse Eskom to rationalise privatisation".
"[Minister of Public Enterprises] Pravin [Gordhan] does not believe that Africans can manage and build complex institutions. The only time he is comfortable appointing Africans is when he puts them in a position of permanent juniority and treats them like his lap dogs," the party said in a statement.