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Adv Semenya: ‘No substance’ to racism and poor governance claims against Eskom CEO

Board backs findings ‘accepting it in its entirety’.
Something to smile about: Andre de Ruyter, Eskom's CEO. Image: Moneyweb

Advocate Ishmael Semenya – the senior counsel appointed by Eskom’s board to investigate allegations of racism and poor governance levelled by the power utility’s former chief procurement officer (CPO) Solly Tshitangano against group CEO Andre de Ruyter has found no substance to the claims.

This was confirmed by Eskom in a strongly worded statement on Wednesday, which highlighted Semenya’s findings and also lambasted employees charged with poor performance who “make baseless claims that bring Eskom and its management into disrepute”.

The ruling by Semenya comes just a week after Tshitangano was dismissed from his position following an independent disciplinary hearing into his poor performance, chaired by former judge Adv Nazeer Cassim.

Eskom’s board said that it had received the report from Adv Semenya into allegations including abuse of power, racial discrimination, poor governance, irregular recruitment, irregular staff appointments as well as unlawful procurement.

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It noted that Tshitangano had sent copies of his allegations to President Cyril Ramaphosa, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and the department’s director-general, in addition to the auditor-general, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), the Zondo Commission and to the National Treasury.

In his report, Adv Semenya said that Tshitangano denied making these allegations. However, despite knowing that the allegations of racism were “wrong, egregious, false, baseless, and lacking any substantiation”, the CPO did not publicly deny them.

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Adv Semenya pointed out that “as a senior executive at Eskom, the CPO must have known that the nature of these allegations would impair the dignity of the group CEO, malign the entire board of Eskom and imperil the corporate standing of Eskom, which is the biggest state-owned company. The allegations could potentially harm Eskom’s financial status”.

In coming to the finding, he had interviewed several witnesses and considered 1 107 pages of documents.

Adv Semenya could find no substantiation for the allegation that De Ruyter conducted himself in any manner that would amount to racist practice.

Other allegations and the findings:

  • Allegations regarding governance

Tshitangano alleged that De Ruyter undermined the authority of the Eskom board and/or the Constitution, and breached Eskom’s delegation of authority.

Adv Semenya found “nothing can be more bizarre”. He could also find no substantiation of poor governance on the part of the group CEO or Eskom.

  • Allegations regarding recruitment

Tshitangano alleged that De Ruyter was responsible for non-compliance with the Eskom internal recruitment processes and that Eskom “tolerates a culture of corruption, nepotism, and patronage”.

Adv Semenya found that this “wild” allegation was “highly irresponsible, particularly because it lacks any substantiation.”

  • Allegations regarding procurement

Tshitangano alleged that De Ruyter’s instruction to the CPO to pursue cost savings and/or the suggestion of options to be explored for achieving cost savings, constituted unlawfulness and/or an abuse of power.

Adv Semenya found that this instruction was “perfectly within the competence of the group CEO” and consequently the allegations were “also without merit”.

Overall, in his conclusion, Adv Semenya said that he “cannot find in Eskom, anyone guilty of any wrongdoing and would be making no recommendation to that effect”.

Meanwhile, Eskom’s board said in reaction that it “considered Adv Semenya’s report and had no hesitation in accepting it in its entirety”.

It also noted the ruling of the disciplinary hearing, chaired by Cassim.

“The board notes with serious concern the emerging pattern that when Eskom employees are charged with poor performance and or ill-discipline there is a tendency for them to go public with wild and baseless claims that bring Eskom and its management into disrepute,” it added.

“The board deeply regrets the waste of time, money and resources incurred by taxpayers as a result of such irresponsible conduct, but assures taxpayers and customers that it remains resolute in the pursuit of a high performance culture and transformation at Eskom,” it said.

Eskom’s board also reiterated “its support and confidence” in De Ruyter and his executive team.

“The [executive] team has been mandated by the board to ensure that they deliver a high performing and transforming organisation by acting decisively when confronted with issues that undermine the board’s mandate,” it said.

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This comes as no surprise that Mr Solly Tshitangano was falsely playing the race card to try and save his own ass. What should really happen now is that he must get prosecuted for that. There must be some sort of a punishment for falsely accusing someone for racism especially in the corporate world. That will make these chance takers think twice before trying to ruin someone else life and career. Shame on you Solly Tshitangano!

Now that blatant and planned, focussed and intended racism against De Ruyter has been shown by Adv Semenya, it would now be an open and shut case for De Ruyter to open a case of racism against Tshitangano.

South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC): Where are you now in this matter? Failing to act will imply that you are also racist.

Yes, the first thing an accused employee do is to start flinging mud to management. They play the race card.

I will not humiliate myself by incompetent peoples. De Ruyter take your money,retire and let these racists run their own bankrupt business.

The honourable Governor of the SARB addressed delegates at a meeting of members of the World Bank on the topic of Reserve Bank independence. He told them that politicians hiding behind race politics pose the biggest threat. He told them that “race politics is the last hiding place of the scoundrel”. He actually referred to Malema who accused the Governor of being biased against “black excellence” at VBS bank.

We have similar opportunistic plundering scoundrels making insulting claims against De Ruyter.

“All manner of hypocracies flourish when a self-selecting elite chooses the boundaries of legitimate behaviour”

Rafael Behr

Tshitangano complained to almost every single department he could, including the president, when he knew full well that his allegations were absolute nonsense? A person with zero basis for his allegations has the audacity to stand on his soap box and cry fowl and believes that there is nothing wrong with it because he truly believes he is right! What kind of mindset is this?

It’s a BEE mindset where a man feels superior to another man because of his skin colour, were he felt entitled to complain about someone even though he knew he was totally wrong. This is the kind of mindset BEE has created! A mindset of zero accountability, a mindset of so many people in this country, it’s a perverted corrupt mindset which goes against all logic and has destroyed this country and continues to do so.

And until we correct this mindset we are forever doomed!

Not forgetting of course the mindset that placed this individual into position.

End of comments.

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