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De Ruyter moves the needle

André de Ruyter is the first Eskom CEO in 15 years who has managed to reduce debt at the ailing state-owned power utility. Eskom’s debt has come down by R90 billion since he joined in January 2020. Some background: In 2005, Eskom was sitting at a debt of R30 billion; by 2020 that had ballooned to R488 billion because of dodgy transactions, financial mismanagement and corruption (thanks Guptas). So that leaves R400 billion remaining debt. That is obviously A LOT but, according to Biznews, De Ruyter plans to clear it by: 

  • Increasing electricity tariffs (eek). 🙃
  • Collecting money that is due to Eskom, notably municipal debt.
  • Reducing illegal connections and electricity theft which costs Eskom about R5 billion a year. 

Thankfully De Ruyter stayed put: there was real concern he would jump ship after the racism charges levelled against him by former chief procurement officer, Solly Tshitangano. De Ruyter was cleared by an independent inquiry appointed by Eskom’s board, but Tshitangano is now asking parliament AND the Auditor-General to look into his allegations. 😬

While we’re here, sad news is that Eskom’s former chair Jabu Mabuza passed away yesterday, reportedly due to Covid-19. He resigned from his position last year citing his inability to reduce load shedding and tackle other operational issues at Eskom, as well as apologising for those shortcomings. Mabuza was an honest business leader and held top positions in several other South African companies, like Net1, Sun International and MultiChoice. 

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 17 June 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates