Former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter. Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)
The African National Congress used its majority in parliament on Thursday night to vote against establishing a ad hoc committee to investigate allegations of rampant corruption and criminal cartels operating in Eskom and allegedly involving high-ranking ANC politicians.
The ruling party said parliament’s oversight mechanisms and the appointment of an electricity minister were sufficient to address any problems at the power company.
The 201 ANC MPs present at the session voted against the motion, while the 115 opposition MPs present voted in favour.
The draft resolution was introduced by DA leader John Steenhuisen last week, who told a social gathering after Thursday’s session: “The ANC voted to protect the thugs responsible for the collapse of South Africa’s power grid. “.
Eskom’s then-outgoing CEO Andre de Ruyter made allegations of politically connected criminal networks in late February during an interview with eNCA journalist Annika Larsen.
During the interview, De Ruyter said that all available evidence pointed to the ANC viewing Eskom as a “trough”.
Although he did not name names, he said a senior ANC politician was complicit in ongoing corruption at the utility and had raised concerns about it with a minister, since confirmed to be the minister for public companies, Pravin Gordhan.
De Ruyter told Larsen: “The response was essentially, ‘You know, you have to be pragmatic; to pursue the common good, you have to allow some people to eat a little’. So yes, I think (corruption) is entrenched.”
He left the organization a day after the interview aired, “by mutual agreement” according to Eskom.
In an interview with Newzroom Afrika just a few days later, Gordhan confirmed that De Ruyter had made “allusions about certain people” but did not provide any evidence.
The ANC demanded that De Ruyter bring criminal charges within seven days over the wrongdoing of which it had evidence.
A week later, the ruling party said it was preparing to sue De Ruyter for defamation.
But De Ruyter collapsed shortly after the interview and, according to sunday World, this was making it difficult for the ANC to comply with the libel summons.
“We cannot find Mr. Andre de Ruyter to serve the summons on him. We don’t know where he is…” ANC lawyer Krish Naidoo told Sunday World.
When the motion to set up the ad-hoc committee was debated last week, Steenhuisen said that former vice-president David Mabuza was the corrupt minister profiting from the myriad of Eskom contracts De Ruyter had spoken of. “We all know who this referenced person is. He is Mr. DD Mabuza and we all know how connected he is within the ANC,” Steenhuisen said.
Mabuza has denied the accusations, telling the mail and guardian that Steenhuisen was a “political quack desperate for attention”.
“By now, Mr. Steenhuisen should be aware that whenever he and his ilk have tried to use my name to further their political goals, I have repeatedly and unequivocally urged them to use all legal means to their willingness to prove or disprove their baseless claims,” Mabuza said.