Wednesday, 02 June 2021: The Eskom Board has received the report from Advocate Semenya SC who was appointed by the Board to investigate allegations made by Eskom’s former Chief Procurement Officer (“CPO”) Mr. Solly Tshitangano against the Group Chief Executive, Mr. Andre de Ruyter (“GCE”).
The allegations included the abuse of power, racial discrimination, poor governance, irregular recruitment, irregular staff appointments as well as unlawful procurement.
Mr. S. Tshitangano sent copies of his allegations to the President of the Republic of South Africa, the Minister of Public Enterprises, the Director General of the Department of Public Enterprises, the Auditor General, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA), the Zondo Commission and to the National Treasury.
Adv Semenya reported that he interviewed witnesses and considered 1107 pages of documents.
Allegations of Racism
Regarding Mr Tshitangano’s allegation that Eskom’s Group Chief Executive Mr De Ruyter was guilty of racism and preferred a white company above another that is black-owned on racial grounds, Adv Semenya reports that Mr. Tshitangano denied making these allegations. Despite knowing that these allegations of racism were “wrong, egregious, false, baseless, and lacking any substantiation”, the CPO did not publicly deny them.
Adv Semenya pointed out that “As a Senior Executive at Eskom, the CPO must have known that the nature of these allegations would impair the dignity of the GCE, malign the entire board of Eskom and imperil the corporate standing of Eskom, which is the biggest state-owned company. The allegations could potentially harm Eskom’s financial status”.
Adv Semenya could find no substantiation for the allegation that the Group Chief Executive has conducted himself in any manner that would amount to racist practice.
Allegations Regarding Governance
Mr Tshitangano alleged that the Group Chief Executive undermined the authority of the Eskom Board and/or the Constitution, and breached Eskom’s Delegation of Authority.
Adv Semenya found in regard to this allegation that, “Nothing can be more bizarre”. He could also find no substantiation of poor governance on the part of the Group Chief Executive or Eskom.
Allegations Regarding Recruitment
Mr Tshitangano alleged that the Group Chief Executive was responsible for non-compliance with the Eskom internal recruitment processes and that Eskom ‘tolerates a culture of corruption, nepotism, and patronage’.
Adv Semenya found that this “wild” allegation was “highly irresponsible, particularly because it lacks any substantiation.”
Allegations Regarding Procurement
Mr Tshitangano alleged that the Group Chief Executive’s instruction to the CPO to pursue cost savings and/or the suggestion of options to be explored for achieving cost savings, constituted unlawfulness and/or an abuse of power.
Adv Semenya found that this instruction was “perfectly within the competence of the GCE” and consequently the allegations were “also without merit”.
Adv Semenya concluded that:
· Having had all the evidence, and considered all the documents, I could find no substantiation for the allegation that the GCE has conducted himself in any manner that would amount to racist practice.
· I could also find no substantiation of poor governance on the part of the GCE or Eskom.
· There was no substantiation for the allegation that the recruitment processes were irregular.
· The claim that the procurement processes were unlawful is also without merit.
· I, accordingly, cannot find in Eskom, anyone guilty of any wrongdoing and would be making no recommendation to that effect.
The Eskom board today considered Adv Semenya’s report and had no hesitation in accepting it in its entirety. It also noted that in a separate disciplinary hearing concerning poor performance (chaired by Adv Cassim SC) Mr. S. Tshitangano had been found guilty and dismissed.
The Board notes with serious concern the emerging pattern that when Eskom employees are charged with poor performance and or ill-discipline there is a tendency for them to go public with wild and baseless claims that bring Eskom and its management into disrepute.
The Board deeply regrets the waste of time, money and resources incurred by tax payers as a result of such irresponsible conduct, but assures tax payers and customers that it remains resolute in the pursuit of a high performance culture and transformation at Eskom.
The Board would also like to take this opportunity to reiterate its support and confidence in the Group Chief Executive and his executive team and would like to have it put on record that the team has been mandated by the Board to ensure that they deliver a high performing and transforming organisation by acting decisively when confronted with issues that undermine the Board’s mandate.