/ 10 May 2023

De Ruyter brought Eskom into disrepute: Chairman

Screenshot 2023 04 26 091320
Former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter when he appeared before Scopa in April.

Former Eskom chief executive André de Ruyter was let go with immediate effect in February because the board believed his television interview that month had brought the company into disrepute, chairperson Mpho Makwana said on Wednesday.

Makwana told parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) that De Ruyter had told a special board meeting convened after the interview, that he would be amenable to leaving if those were the board’s sentiments.

“When the board sat, the board afforded Mr De Ruyter an opportunity to put his perspective before the board and in that conversation he acknowledged that that interview had taken place and in his words stated that if the board considered the contents of the interview to have caused embarrassment to Eskom that he would be agreeable to a variation of the terms of his then notice period,” he said.

De Ruyter had been due to leave on 31 March after handing in his resignation on 12 December last year.

“Upon his recusal from the board meeting, the board deliberated on the matter. The board arrived at the view that some of the utterances that he made had brought the company into disrepute and therefore resolved to agree to a variation of his notice period,” Makwana said, reading from prepared notes.

“The board further resolved then to release him forthwith from the obligation to serve the remainder of his notice period at that time and released him with immediate effect.”

Makwana said the board believed De Ruyter’s allegations were misleading because he created the impression that the information was new and that the company had failed to act on it.

He said one of the main objectives of the Eskom board was to restore the “reputational integrity” of the power utility and to eradicate corruption afflicting the company.

De Ruyter’s interview with eNCA caused shockwaves because of his expansive remarks on corruption at the company, and the link he drew between this and the ruling party.

The ANC has responded by initiating a defamation suit, and initially also threatened to charge his with breaching his reporting duty in terms of section 34 of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, which obliges chief executives to inform a police official of any knowledge or reasonable suspicion of graft involving more than R100 000.

On Tuesday, the head of the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation, Godfrey Lebeya, told Scopa De Ruyter was under suspicion of having broken the law. He said he only filed a section 34 declaration on the eve of his own appearance before the committee, on 26 April.

In an interview with the Mail & Guardian, De Ruyter denied this.

He said he had given the police far more information, over the course of many months, than that which he divulged in the interview.