Racism claims against André de Ruyter have no substance, Eskom probe finds

André de Ruyter. Image credit: Twitter/Samkele Maseko

An investigation into allegations of racism against Eskom CEO André de Ruyter has found that the claims have no substance.

Senior Counsel Ishmael Semenya, who was commissioned by the Eskom board to probe the claims, has submitted his report, the state-owned power utility said in a statement on Wednesday (2 June).

Eskom’s former chief procurement officer Solly Tshitangano reportedly made the allegations after the company brought disciplinary charges against him related to procurement irregularities.

He was subsequently fired after being found guilty in a disciplinary process led by Senior Counsel Nazeer Cassim.

‘Baseless allegations’

According to the board, Semenya said Tshitangano denied making the allegations against de Ruyter but failed to deny it publicly even though he knew they were “wrong, egregious, false, baseless and lacking any substantiation.”

“Advocate Semenya could find no substantiation to the allegation that the Group Chief Executive has conducted himself in any manner that would amount to racist practice,” the board said.

Tshitangano had also accused de Ruyter of non-compliance with Eskom internal recruitment processes, abuse of power and issuing an unlawful instruction.

He further alleged that Eskom “tolerates a culture of corruption, nepotism and patronage.”

Semenya similarly dismissed these allegations, labelling them variously as “highly irresponsible,” “wild” and “without merit.” The board said it had “no hesitation” in accepting Semenya’s report in its entirety.

‘Emerging pattern’

It added, “The board notes with serious concern the emerging pattern that when Eskom employees are charged with poor performance 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 money, time and resources incurred by taxpayers as a result of such irresponsible conduct, but assures taxpayers and customers that it remains resolute in the pursuit of a high performance culture and transformation at Eskom.”

It reiterated its support for de Ruyter and his executive team, adding that it has mandated them to “act decisively” when confronted with issues that undermine its mandate.

Semenya interviewed witnesses and considered 1,107 pages of documents before filing his report.

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