Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter says appointments of senior managers at Eskom were not motivated by "ulterior racial motives" but rather by "performance and delivery", following a raft of allegations against him by now suspended chief procurement officer Solly Tshitangano.
This according to an affidavit De Ruyter wrote to Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) as part of an investigation into allegations of racism, abuse of power and irregularities brought by Tshitangano.
Tshitangano accused De Ruyter of playing a part in the irregular appointments of two senior Eskom officials, as well as failing to comply with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) by failing to submit certain documents to National Treasury regarding the collusive practices between Sasol and embattled Eskom supplier Econ Oil.
De Ruyter denied the allegations in his affidavit, saying the matter hindered his ability to do his job.
News24 previously reported he had shot down further allegations by Tshitangano in his affidavit to Scopa regarding abuse of power and irregularities in following Eskom processes.
Alleged irregular appointments
In denying allegations that he was involved in the irregular appointment of Pieter le Roux who, in mid-2020 was appointed as senior manager of procurement and supply chain at Eskom, De Ruyter denied appointments were motivated "ulterior racial motives".
Hitting back at racism allegations, he said a reshuffling of Eskom's Generation Division had taken place during the time of Le Roux's appointment, which involved the "replacement of a white male with an African female as general manager finance of the Generation Division".
"In no way can it therefore be suggested that the changes in management were motivated by ulterior racial motives. On the contrary, performance and delivery were the criteria for filling these positions," De Ruyter said.
According to his affidavit, Tshitangano claimed Le Roux was part of the panel which conducted interviews for the position.
But De Ruyter denied this, saying such interviews were unnecessary during the reshuffling of Eskom personnel.
"It therefore appears that, once again, Mr Tshitangano has manufactured this allegation in order to mislead this committee," he told Scopa.
According to De Ruyter, Tshitangano also accused him of irregularly appointing Eskom's senior manager of fuel sourcing, Werner Mouton, despite Tshitangano signing off on the initial appointment himself.
Mouton was appointed in 2020 on a three-month fixed-term contract which was approved by Tshitangano and Eskom's generation group executive, among others, De Ruyter said.
At the time, Eskom was in the process of restructuring its contracts with fuel oil suppliers but according to him, Tshitangano appealed to him for assistance in appointing an expert who could complete this task.
"[O]n 12 January 2020 [two days before Mouton's appointment], Mr Tshitangano wrote to me to record that 'on the issue of experts, I hope you will assist me to appoint them because I attempted to do that from February 2019 to date without success'," De Ruyter claimed.
As a result, Mouton was appointed, with Tshitangano signing off on his initial fixed-term contract.
"It is therefore remarkable that Mr Tshitangano, who requested additional technical expertise, who approved Mr Mouton's appointment, and who signed Mr Mouton's initial contract of employment, now attempts to cast the appointment as irregular," De Ruyter said in his affidavit.
On Mouton's reappointment, he maintained "all the required processes had been followed", adding Mouton was not related to him and no friendship existed before Mouton's appointment.
Possible collusion between Sasol and Econ Oil
While Tshitangano has accused De Ruyter of failing to comply with the PFMA by failing to submit certain documents to National Treasury regarding the possible collusion between Econ Oil and Sasol, De Ruyter said he was under no such obligation to do so, while the issue had been referred to the relevant authorities.
He added, however, that in April 2020 he had submitted minutes of an Eskom board meeting that took place in January 2020 which resolved to cancel the contract in question.
"One of the reasons for this decision, as detailed in the minutes, was that Econ and Sasol had possibly engaged in collusive practices," De Ruyter said.
In July the same year, Treasury notified him it would report the allegations of collusion to the Competition Commission.
"The allegations of possible collusion have therefore been drawn to the attention of the relevant authorities, and, contrary to Mr Tshitangano's baseless allegation, the PFMA did not oblige Eskom to provide documentation about these allegations to any entity, nor was Eskom requested by any entity to provide such documentation," De Ruyter said in his affidavit.
However, commission spokesperson Siyabulela Makunga told News24 it had not received such a complaint.
'Simple operation issue'
De Ruyter claimed the allegations against him had seriously hindered his ability to do his job, saying Tshitangano's allegations against him only surfaced once discussions about Tshitangano's underperformance had taken place.
"In effect, a simple and straightforward operation issue dealing with underperformance has been elevated to parliamentary level.
"It seriously undermines morale in Eskom as we seek to engender a high-performance culture. It obstructs the efforts made by all concerned to recover Eskom's productive efficiency," he told Scopa.