Original article in Business Day here
Fresh allegations have emerged against Eskom CEO André de Ruyter, with a second executive accusing him of making another three senior appointments without following due process.
Business Day has been reliably informed that last week Eskom’s board reversed, within a day, the addition of the names to the terms of reference for the independent investigation, to be done by senior counsel advocate Ishmael Semenya. He would have investigated eight questionable appointments by the CEO but three names have since been removed from that list.
This was after Eskom CFO Caleb Cassim informed the board of three new GM appointments that were allegedly done at De Ruyter’s instruction outside the normal process.
Cassim alleged that former department of public enterprises chief specialist Ben Theron, Mandy Rambharos and Michiel Reimers were appointed as GMs either without the positions being advertised, or to positions that did not exist on Eskom’s organigram.
“Initially the board resolved to add the names and added them, but at another board meeting the next day the chairperson and other board members felt the CFO should write a formal complaint to the board, such as [Solly] Tshitangano had done,” a source with direct knowledge of the developments said.
Thus the names were removed from the terms of reference, which were drawn up by Eskom’s acting head of legal, for consideration by the board.
Cassim could not be reached for comment, but several Eskom insiders confirmed he had not submitted a complaint to the board.
Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said the amended terms of reference came about after Eskom’s acting head of legal, and the company secretary, raised a legal question about the addition of the names.
“Legal advice was sought and received, that the three names be removed as their addition was inconsistent with the letter of complaint upon which the investigation is based,” he said.
“As the matter was drawn to the attention of the board, it was resolved that this matter must be confronted and addressed and ‘must not be swept under the carpet’. This matter is now receiving that due attention,” he added.
The power utility also said the appointments were done in accordance with “Eskom’s policy and guidelines, in the best interests of the company”.
“There is no requirement for the Eskom board to approve the appointment of senior managers and organisational structures. This is part of the operational roles to be fulfilled by the group CEO,” the company added.
Reimers’s appointment as GM of special projects from March was filled through a headhunter, while Theron has been on a fixed-term contract as forensics GM that has been renewed every three months since May 2020. “Eskom is currently using the services of a headhunter to fill the vacancy,” it added.
“The Eskom talent discovery procedure allows for contracting of specialists on a fixed-term basis, for a period not exceeding three months with specified completion of a task or project or a fixed date.”
It also allows for a renewal of a contract in the event that work for which the non-permanent employee was appointed could not be completed within the contractual period.
Eskom said De Ruyter had decided to elevate the just energy transition office, where Rambharos has been appointed GM, to inside his office so he could influence it directly because it was important to Eskom’s transformational agenda.
Business Day was able to independently verify that two different versions of the terms of reference, one with eight appointments and another with five names, were drawn up at Eskom. The one without the additional names made it to Semenya last Thursday.
Eskom announced last week that Semenya had been requested to conduct the investigation and issue written findings and recommendations.
Bloomberg last week cited a forensic report that oil blending and storage company Econ Oil had secured deals to supply Eskom with fuel oil worth more than R15bn at inflated prices by paying inducements, including donations to the ANC.
De Ruyter has been quoted denying the racism allegations against him in an affidavit before parliament.