Cabinet backs new Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter

New Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter brings significant international experience and turnaround skills necessary to carry out interventions at Eskom, according to Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu.

The minister was speaking at a post-Cabinet briefing in Pretoria on Thursday.

"The appointment of a permanent CEO is an important first step in strengthening Eskom (and) dealing decisively with government and financial management challenges at utilities, which will ensure a stable electricity supply for the nation," Mthembu said.

De Ruyter's appointment was announced this week. He will take on the role in mid-January 2020. He is the current CEO of Nampak and has held senior legal, marketing and operations positions at Sasol in SA, Germany and China.

"Cabinet believes De Ruyter will work with the leadership of Eskom to drive the proposed interventions as spelt out in the Eskom paper," Mthembu said.

While Cabinet listed De Ruyter's experience internationally and in terms of dealing with governments and regulators, turnaround skills and a "track record of delivering sustainable profits and value for stakeholders", De Ruyter's appointment has come as a surprise to markets, Bloomberg reported.

While the ANC and DA have welcomed De Ruyter's appointment, the EFF has labelled his appointment as "anti-transformation".

"[Minister of Public Enterprises] Pravin [Gordhan] does not believe that Africans can manage and build complex institutions. The only time he is comfortable appointing Africans is when he puts them in a position of permanent juniority and treats them like his lap dogs," the EFF said in a statement issued this week.

Mthembu, however, came to the defense of the Eskom board's appointment of De Ruyter.

"We are on the same page as government. As you know, this matter is under discussion for some time. We need a leader at the helm to bring stability to Eskom. From where we are seated, De Ruyter (has) the necessary expertise to bring stability in the governance arena and financial management. He comes quite decorated to fulfill this role," said Mthembu.

"South Africa belongs to all who live in it – black and white. There are some who forget or decide to forget that there have been many black CEOs at Eskom," he added.

Mthembu said the appointment of De Ruyter is not a reversal of government's policy on transformation.

"We are fully behind the appointment of Andre de Ruyter and this is in no way undermining transformative activities that we have undertaken as government," Mthembu said.

"In fact, this is complementing these activities we have undertaken in transforming the various entities that fall within government's space."

Mthembu said De Ruyter was the best candidate to bring stability at the power utility and ensure governance matters and financial management challenges are attended to.