The ANC launches a scathing attack on the Eskom boss who criticized the party

South Africa’s African National Congress has launched a scathing attack on the outgoing chief executive of power-cut-prone Eskom, who was ousted after accusing senior members of the ruling party of corruption in the electricity monopoly.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s party on Thursday accused André de Ruyter of being a “naysayer” with “right-wing ideological stances” after he claimed in a TV interview that ANC politicians were involved in high-level bribes at Eskom.

“His opportunistic foray into the political arena has exposed his regressive political and ideological agenda. . . We also reject his unfortunate, irresponsible and unfounded allegations of alleged political interference and corruption at the embattled energy company,” the party said.

De Ruyter was dismissed by Eskom’s board of directors on Wednesday without naming an acting chief executive, effective immediately, even as the utility, which generates almost all of South Africa’s electricity, causes constant blackouts of up to 12 hours a day.

The Eskom chief, who is due to step down next month after announcing his resignation in December due to a lack of political support, warned in the interview with South Africa’s eNCA aired this week that the country faces even worse outages.

His outspoken comments about looting leading to the collapse of Eskom’s aging coal-fired power plant fleet and his blaming of the ANC’s “1980s-style ideology” of state control appear to have rocked the ruling party.

The ANC said de Ruyter was working to “undermine the efforts of patriotic South Africans” – repeating allegations of treason made against him last year by Gwede Mantashe, the energy secretary.

The ANC is under intense pressure ahead of next year’s elections due to the energy crisis. Polls suggest the party could lose its parliamentary majority for the first time in the 2024 election, three decades after the movement took power.

“They want what they’re going to win in the next election — not what’s going to keep the country going for the next two decades,” de Ruyter said in the interview, adding that he had failed to stem the rolling blackouts .

De Ruyter said he had raised concerns about the involvement of an unnamed “particular senior politician” in corruption at Eskom but had been brushed aside by a minister.

He added that a senior minister told him “you have to allow some people to eat a little bit” after expressing concerns about the management of $8.5 billion in climate finance South Africa will receive from Western governments to fund its transition to green energy.

“It seems quite odd that a board of directors should oust a CEO after an interview that raised the well-publicized issue of rental income in and between the government and Eskom,” said Peter Attard Montalto, head of capital markets at Intellidex , the South African research company.

“A live wire was clearly touched and the board succumbed to political interference to remove it.”

In the interview, de Ruyter also sharply criticized the ANC for its state intervention policies, which he said confused foreign investors. “The ghosts of Marx and Lenin still haunt the halls” of party headquarters, he said.

Regarding his own death in December, when he fell violently ill on the day of his resignation after allegedly drinking poisoned coffee in his office, de Ruyter expressed little hope that the case would be properly investigated. The police who were sent to investigate the matter had been informed that he had problems with his sinuses, as opposed to cyanide.

On Wednesday, South Africa’s National Treasury said it would support the bulk of Eskom’s R400 billion ($22 billion) debt with state money to make payments due over the next three years and a pledge to take over part of the utility company’s loans in the future. The ANC launches a scathing attack on the Eskom boss who criticized the party

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