Thursday, 03 June 2021

Johannesburg: Eskom Group Chief Executive (GCE) André de Ruyter has been cleared of allegations of racism by an independent inquiry.

The inquiry, led by Advocate Ishmael Semenya, was established by the Eskom Board to probe a series of allegations made by Eskom’s former Chief Procurement Officer (CPO), Solly Tshitangano, against De Ruyter.

The allegations included the abuse of power, racial discrimination, poor governance, irregular recruitment, irregular staff appointments, and unlawful procurement.

According to a statement released on Wednesday, Tshitangano even wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa about the Eskom GCE.

“Advocate Semenya reported that he interviewed witnesses and considered 1 107 pages of documents,” Eskom explained.

Tshitangano alleged that De Ruyter was guilty of racism and preferred a white company above another that is black-owned on racial grounds.

“Advocate 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,” the statement read.

Semenya also found that there was no “substantiation” for alleging that the GCE has conducted himself in any manner that would amount to racist practice.

He also said there was no proof of poor governance on the part of the GCE or Eskom.

“Advocate Semenya found in regard to this allegation that, ‘nothing can be more bizarre’.”

On the allegations regarding recruitment, the report stated that the claims were “wild” and “highly irresponsible, particularly because it lacks any substantiation”.

This is after Tshitangano purported that the GCE was responsible for non-compliance with the Eskom internal recruitment processes and that the State-owned entity “tolerates a culture of corruption, nepotism, and patronage”.

De Ruyter was also cleared on claims that procurement processes were unlawful after he found the accusations to be without merit.

“I, accordingly, cannot find in Eskom, anyone guilty of any wrongdoing and would be making no recommendation to that effect,” Semenya added.

The Eskom Board has since considered Semenya’s report and said it had no hesitation in accepting it in its entirety.

“The board also noted that in a separate disciplinary hearing concerning poor performance chaired by Advocate Cassim SC, that Tshitangano had been found guilty and dismissed.”