Former Eskom chief executive Andre de Ruyter. (Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)
The African National Congress used its majority in parliament on Thursday evening to vote against establishing an ad-hoc committee to probe allegations of rampant corruption and criminal cartels operating at Eskom that allegedly involve high-ranking ANC politicians.
The governing party said that parliament’s oversight mechanisms and the appointment of a minister of electricity were enough to deal with any issues at the power utility.
The 201 ANC members of parliament present at the session voted against the motion, while all 115 opposition MPs present voted for it.
The draft resolution was brought by DA leader John Steenhuisen last week, who said via social meeting after the sitting on Thursday: “The ANC voted to protect the thugs responsible for collapsing South Africa’s power grid”.
Allegations of politically connected criminal networks were made by then outgoing Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter in late February during an interview with eNCA journalist Annika Larsen.
During the interview, De Ruyter said that all available evidence pointed to the ANC viewing Eskom as an “eating trough”.
Although he did not mention names, he said one senior ANC politician was complicit in the ongoing corruption at the utility, and that he had expressed his concern about this to a minister – since confirmed to be public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan.
De Ruyter told Larsen: “The response was essentially, ‘you know, you have to be pragmatic – in order to pursue the greater good, you have to enable some people to eat a little bit’. So yes, I think [corruption] is entrenched”.
He left the organisation a day after the interview aired, “by mutual agreement” according to Eskom.
In an interview with Newzroom Afrika just days later, Gordhan confirmed that De Ruyter had made “allusions about certain individuals”, but had not provided any evidence.
The ANC demanded that De Ruyter lay criminal charges within seven days about the wrongdoings he had evidence of.
A week later, the governing party said it was preparing to sue De Ruyter for defamation.
But De Ruyter went to ground shortly after the interview and, according to Sunday World, this was making it difficult for the ANC to serve the summons for defamation.
“We cannot find Mr Andre de Ruyter to serve him with the summons. We do not know where he is….” ANC attorney Krish Naidoo told Sunday World.
When the motion to establish the ad-hoc committee was debated last week, Steenhuisen said former deputy president David Mabuza was the corrupt minister benefitting from myriad Eskom contracts that De Ruyter had spoken about. “We all know who this person being referred to is. It’s Mr DD Mabuza and we all know how connected he is within the ANC,” said Steenhuisen.
Mabuza has denied the allegations, telling the Mail & Guardian that Steenhuisen was a “political charlatan desperate for attention”.
“By now, Mr Steenhuisen ought to be aware that each time he and his ilk have tried to use my name to further their political goals, I have repeatedly and unequivocally urged them to use all legal means at their disposal to prove or disprove their unsubstantiated claims,” said Mabuza.