Unions lukewarm on Eskom’s new CEO

NUM says Jacob Maroga would have been a ‘better devil’.
Long to-do list for new Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter. Image: Waldo Swiegers, Bloomberg

After a four-month search, Eskom has announced Nampak’s Andre de Ruyter as its new CEO.

De Ruyter takes over from Jabu Mabuza, who has been acting CEO since the sudden departure of Phakamani Hadebe at the end of July.

Read: Nampak’s Andre de Ruyter appointed as Eskom CEO 

De Ruyter, who holds various qualifications, including an LLB and MBA, has been CEO of paper and packaging group Nampak since March 2014.

Prior to joining Nampak, he held various senior posts at petrochemical group Sasol over a more than 20-year stint. While there he oversaw work in the US, Nigeria, Angola, Mozambique, Germany and China.

He was part of a shortlist of 17 candidates, six of whom were interviewed – and was chosen over the Canadian-based Andy Calitz, who is currently CEO of LNG Canada.

De Ruyter is set to take over on January 15.

The announcement of his appointment was somewhat confusing. The initial media statement from the Ministry of Public Enterprises, which was later retracted, was presented as a statement from the acting chairperson of South African Airways (SAA).

The statement congratulated De Ruyter on his appointment and thanked the board of Nampak for releasing him, but did not specify who was congratulating him.

Top team

De Ruyter will head the utility together with chief financial officer Calib Cassim, chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer, and the heads of the generation, transmission and distribution divisions – Bheki Nxumalo, Segomocco Scheppers and Monde Bala respectively. Also part of the top team is Freeman Nomvalo, who was appointed chief restructuring officer in July (Nomvalo retains his position as CEO of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants).

“The government is working to bring back the engineering skills and experience of competent and ethical professionals, that have been lost to Eskom over the years due to state capture and other incidents of malfeasance,” reads the statement.

In becoming CEO, De Ruyter takes on one of the most difficult jobs in the country.

Read: Medupi magic fails Eskom and SA – the stuff of nightmares

He has to ensure that the power utility provides electricity on a continuous basis and reduces its debt of R450 billion, while guiding it through a restructuring that will see it split into three units.

Read: SA aims to complete Eskom split around 2022 

Instead of making an announcement to reduce the power utility’s debt in his mid-term budget speech, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said the utility would have to show signs of progress in implementing reforms before the government could consider easing its debt burden. 

This was a day after Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan had released a special paper outlining the roadmap towards Eskom’s unbundling which is meant to be completed by 2022, starting with the functional separation of the transmission entity by March 2020. 

Labour

Another hurdle De Ruyter has to face is to get the co-operation of Eskom’s two largest unions – the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), both of which have been opposed to the utility’s split.

NUM’s first reaction does not signal an easy ride. 

“The appointment is very bad for our transformation agenda, in fact, it is regressing the transformation we have made since 1994 because it is an insult to the majority of educated black people who are available and ready to serve South Africans,” said NUM energy sector co-ordinator Paris Mashego. 

Mashego said there were many qualified black people that had applied for the job that were not considered because “the agenda is black persons are associated with failure”. 

“We are totally against it, he is not going to get any support from the NUM,” he said. 

One of the candidates who was punted for the job is former Eskom CEO Jacob Maroga, whom Mashego said would have been a “better devil”. 

“If he was given a chance we believe that he could have done miracles for Eskom. 

“We are totally disappointed by the leadership of the country, specifically the ANC. We are unhappy about Pravin [Gordhan] who has been behaving like a prime minister,” he added. 

Numsa’s Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said the union would respond through a statement, which had not been received by the time of publishing.

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Paris my man! Nervous because this ‘non-transformation’ devil has actually decided that he will start with what amounts to a pay cut? Or is it that he just might support the ongoing (and VERY valid) complaints from the unions, listen carefully to what your SAA comrades are saying, that the transformation devils that have been around since 1994 have been a scourge and have milked the system of everything they could. If the latter, then you confirm the utter idiocy of all who are against merit based appointments. Now surely, you are not in that camp are you?

What an infantile response from NUM energy sector co-ordinator Paris Mashego. You sound like a child throwing a tantrum. Grow up!

“The appointment is very bad for our transformation agenda, in fact, it is regressing the transformation we have made since 1994 because it is an insult to the majority of educated black people who are available and ready to serve South Africans,” said NUM energy sector co-ordinator Paris Mashego.

Their definition of transformation is all black, even the light bulbs must be black.

Time for the unions to go …. themselves.

Yes, Paris. That’s really the important thing here: not whether we can turn around this massive black hole that is slowly bringing the country to its knees. What Paris would like to know but is how white/black/purple the person’s skin is. Boggles the mind. Andre, will you at least wear a 1960s style hat?

“The appointment is very bad for our transformation agenda, in fact, it is regressing the transformation we have made since 1994 because it is an insult to the majority of educated black people who are available and ready to serve South Africans,” said NUM energy sector co-ordinator Paris Mashego.

Gosh……this again. Im sure there were other educated white, Indian and coloured people who were also available that did not make the cut! Its about getting the right person for the job, not what race they are!

Don’t forget it’s still the same cANCer ruling party… “De Ruyter’s ship must sail in their same direction or else… will see how long his stay will be”.

I hope he phone the Post Office guy for an opinion…

Unions for the win. More interested in the coulour of of mans skin, than his ability to potentially save the entire country’s economy… Juvenile thought processes if you have ever seen it, retribution is not more important than a country that works and serve all citizens…. Paris is a racist

Wonder if Paris has read any Ryuter (sic) in Swart photo comics?

So the Government appointed a man with no electricity experience. It is like appointing a baker to run a mechanic’s workshop.

Where is Andy Calitz – or did he see that without an ironclad agreement with government and the unions, he is on a hiding to nothing.

yIP-ANC has thrown him to the wolves and he will of course be the next scapegoat because the ANC are cowards. ANC do not want to take on unions. Beats me why he even considered the job given the racist and hostile unions.

Its his turn to loot… don’t worry yours is coming too… someday, if you are connected. The USSR post communism produced “oligarchs”, South Africa post apartheid produces “looters”. As things change, how they remain the same.

The problem is not the CEO -its the shareholder representative i.e the reptilian Jamnadas who will interfere as he did with the previous CEO who wanted to freeze wages but was overridden at election time by Jamnadas.

Paris Mashego is living proof that unions are long past their sell by date.

Its time the ANC Crushed these useless Unions:
Right now the ANC and EFF are both a Mess , so the lost votes wont matter .
In fact the ANC may get a whole lot of new votes if they show some resolve .
Stop Pussyfooting around !!!

Paris, do you, your union and the EFF not realise the meaning of ‘merit’?? It means’the best person to do the job, irrespective of colour’.

142 potential candidates were considered, 17 were short-listed, and then the multiracial board interviewed 6 candidates in depth and the 3 best people for the job were submitted. De Ruyter was selected. Your views, unions, smack of apartheid in reverse. What you fatcat unions are terrified of is that the new MD will cut Eskom staff (absolutely vital), stop corruption (so you won’t be able to get your sticky fingers in the cookie jar) and insist on high quality of work (something the unions are not known for). Paris, it’s either your fatcat unions or South Africa. Take your pick.

They will take the unions, no problem to them to go back to living under a bush and killing each other with sharp sticks.

Maybe this transformation thing with all the modern conveniences is just too much for them. The old life was better.

WOW! And here we see from comments that folk believe Paris’ comments are infantile…

Right man for the job. Stop bitching about. All have a place in this land. Progressing from Petrochemicals such as Sasol although different will be an easy transmission. I am sure he is sensitive to just firing or making people redundant. We are in a dark hole, the Unions must be dealt with. Moreover the Board and Goverment need to support him. If not he will move on back to square one because the ANC need the Vote.

Wake up ANC South Africa first then market yourself to fight to stay in power without the Unions holding a gun to your head.

Retired Oil Refiner.

Wally Stowe

“If he was given a chance we believe that he could have done miracles for Eskom.” … NUM energy sector co-ordinator Paris Mashego.

Mr Mashego seems oblivious of the fact that the miracles now required are as a consequence of their incompetence.

Isn’t it tiring that we continue to divide the nation along these racist lines. It’s time to end this ridiculous notion that black people and white people are different. South Africa is far from the democracy we dreamt about in the ninety’s. Numsa is nothing but a Mickey Mouse organization who got lost in the turn of the century.

With him in charge, Nampak shares lost more than 80% of their value during the last 5 years, en more than 50% in the last year alone. Now he as CEO is jumping ship and jumping into Eskom.

Are we sure this is the best guy to be in charge of Eskom, and in effect the country’s energy supply? I mean, he basically destroyed Nampak?

Why is it some races do not have to watch their vicious racism? I did not realize that the Eskom CEO position was for Blacks only.

End of comments.

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