Eskom's work is too serious to have race card played willy-nilly - chair on De Ruyter allegations

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Eskom CEO André de Ruyter.
Eskom CEO André de Ruyter.
Deaan Vivier
  • Eskom CEO André De Ruyter was cleared of racism allegations in an investigation by Advocate Ishmael Semenya.
  • Eskom board chair Professor Malegapuru Makgoba said that the race card shouldn't be used as an excuse for anything that happens at the organisation.
  • Eskom's chief procurement officer Solly Tshitangano, who levelled the allegations against De Ruyter, was dismissed following a disciplinary hearing.

Eskom's mandate is "too serious" for the power utility to be left to deal with "frivolous complaints" such as the racism allegations lodged by former chief procurement officer Solly Tshitangano, members of Parliament heard on Tuesday. 

Eskom's board briefed the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) on the findings of an investigation by Advocate Ishmael Semenya into several allegations against the public utility's CEO André De Ruyter.

Tshitangano had levelled allegations of racism, nepotism and abuse of power against De Ruyter. He had written to Eskom board chairperson Malegapuru Makgoba, the Office of the President and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, and later alerted Scopa.

The committee had announced plans to launch an inquiry, but Gordhan had asked it to halt these plans as Eskom was conducting its own investigation into the matter.

Scopa at the time agreed to await the outcomes of the probe, before deciding whether it would proceed with its inquiry.

Makgoba on Tuesday told Scopa that Eskom's investigation, conducted by Semenya, had cleared De Ruyter of allegations - which includes racism, the breach of procedures and policies and undermining processes as well as nepotism, patronage and abuse of power.

"There were a lot of inaccuracies in these allegations," said Makgoba. "None of the allegations Tshitangano brought could be substantiated after Semenya conducted the investigation."

Makgoba said that the group chief executive must now focus on the tasks Eskom must carry out - which is to transform in a "fundamental manner" ensuring a new culture of high performance.

Stop using race card

"And stop ... using the race card as an excuse for anything that happens in an organisation like Eskom," he said. 

"The expectation of the public about the mandate of Eskom is too serious to be left to these kind of frivolous complaints brought by our former CPO."

Tshitangano was dismissed earlier this year following the recommendations of a disciplinary process.

Tshitangano was found guilty of five charges, including serious misconduct and failing to carry out his duties such as turning around the procurement division. He was also found to have contravened the Public Finance Management Act, and contravened Eskom's disciplinary code in that he divulged confidential information to external parties, Fin24 previously reported.

Scopa, however, will be studying Semenya's report and will continue to look into financial management issues, which were not part of the terms of reference of Semenya's investigation, committee chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said.

Hlengwa added that the Eskom board should have dealt with the matter as soon as it was raised in February 2020.

Makgoba said that when he was alerted by Tshitangano on the allegations on 16 February 2020, he had contacted the former chief procurement officer four days later. Makgoba said he had close to four or five interactions with Tshitangano and felt that it would be best for De Ruyter and Tshitangano to meet to resolve their problems. Makgoba asserted that the notion the board did nothing for 13 months is false.

"We did something, but it did not work out the way it should have."

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