The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have added their voice to the growing calls for Eskom chief executive officer (CEO) André de Ruyter and the utility’s board to be fired over the load shedding crisis.
The EFF has also called for the immediate removal of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan as well as Eskom’s chief operating officer (COO) Jan Oberholzer.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Red Berets said urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to dissolve Eskom’s board, accusing it of failing to provide strategic guidance to lead the parastatal’s management.
The EFF has been at loggerheads with Gordhan for several years now and has branded him as an “unethical and incompetent” minister.
Gordhan ‘colluding’ with capital
The party claimed Gordhan was colluding with big business, as part of a racist project, to collapse South Africa’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) with the sole purpose to collapse them so that they can be sold.
It said the plan to “deprive the state of all strategic assets” was meant to hinder any efforts by government to implement redistributive policies that would address poverty, inequality, and unemployment.
“Under Gordhan political leadership, SOEs’ financial and management crises are deepening without a practical and implementable plan to rescue them.
“These shenanigans started with the complete collapse of South African Airways (SAA), and the same is being done to Eskom, Denel and Transnet as buyers are lining up to pick South Africa’s sovereign assets for almost nothing compared to their development mandate and potential balance sheet and good will,” the EFF said.
The EFF slammed Eskom’s current board and management saying when it was appointed there was much fanfare and commitments to fix the country’s energy crisis. However, they have prioritised the interests of Independent Power Producers (IPPs) whom, the EFF said, were a direct competition of Eskom.
“The CEO of Eskom has gone as far as speaking publicly that Eskom must roll back its capacity, and the private sector must take centre stage in generation of electricity.
“The current Eskom board and management lack the necessary competence and capacity to manage such complex systems, as they have demonstrated time and again by their failure to stabilise energy supply.”
The EFF claimed that Gordhan’s continued presence in Cabinet represented “the arrogance and disregard at the highest office of the plight of millions of businesses that are closing down due to unreliable supply of energy and many young people who cannot find work.”
The EFF said it was vindicated by the prolonged bouts of load shedding because it had “correctly” called De Ruyter’s appointment in 2019 irrational and shameful because it believes he is not qualified to manage Eskom.
The party said De Ruyter’s refusal to voluntarily resign showed the “level of white arrogance even in the face of dismal failure”.
“His arrogance is emboldened by sheepish board executives that defend even the most indefensible as long as it has the mainstream media chorus singing for them. They must all go now!”
Speaking at a media briefing on Tuesday, De Ruyter said he would not voluntarily resign from the power utility after the Black Business Council (BBC) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) called for his resignation.
He said it was better to allow for the continuation of the current management to deal with Eskom’s power crisis.
“You can flog a dead horse or even go one step further and change the jockey on the dead horse but that will not solve the problem,” De Ruyter said.
Eskom implemented stage 3 load shedding from 5am on Wednesday and its expected to last until Friday at 5am.
This will be followed by stage 2 load shedding, which is expected to end at 5am on Saturday.