The Black Business Council (BBC) has called on Eskom CEO André de Ruyter and the power utility’s entire board to resign “due to their inability to resolve the prolonged electricity blackouts.”
The Council made the call in a statement issued on Monday (8 November) after Eskom ramped up load shedding from stage 2 to stage 4 from Monday until Friday this week.
‘Completely overwhelmed’ by load shedding
“The BBC was overly optimistic when de Ruyter was appointed as Eskom needed stability, but has since realised that two years later, the country has nothing to show but the highest number of blackouts in the history of our beloved South Africa,” the Council’s CEO Kganki Matabane said.
The Council urged South Africa to acknowledge that Eskom’s leadership is “completely overwhelmed, inept and out of its depth,” adding that there seems to be no end in sight for load shedding.
It added that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan will remain a “pipe dream” as long as the energy constraints are not resolved, and called for an urgent meeting with Ramaphosa and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan to discuss the crisis.
“The country has been experiencing the blackouts since 2008 and 13 years later, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. The continuous excuse of blaming the state capture instead of solving the current problem, while it could have been valid, is disingenuous and tired,” Matabane said.
“The inability to stabilise Eskom will only lead to the country being downgraded, resulting in the increase in the already record-breaking unemployment rate, further economic contraction and scaring of international investors.”
‘We don’t work like that’
During a press briefing on Monday, however, Ramaphosa appeared to resist calls to fire Eskom’s board or management leadership because the power utility’s situation is “complex.”
“We are keeping the issue of electricity on our radar every hour and every minute, looking at how the [Eskom] executives are handling it, how the board is handling it, and indeed how the Department of Public Enterprises and the Minister are handling it,” the President said.
“[SABC reporter] Samkele Maseko would like me to say here and now that so and so is going to be fired. We don’t work like that. It is a major problem.”
Energy expert Anton Eberhard also came to de Ruyter’s defence in a tweet on Monday, saying Eskom has experienced a high turnover of CEOs over the years.
“Some try to undermine the notion of state capture, but let’s remember that its modus operandi was to destroy governance so thieves could move in. Eskom had nine CEOs in nine Zuma years. Then CEOs [Phakamani] Hadebe and [Jabu] Mabuza resigned after short stints. Let’s hope de Ruyter is given time,” he wrote.