Mabuza: 'We are satisfied, Andre is the man for the now'

Andre de Ruyter is the most "suitable" person to be taking on the role as Eskom CEO, Jabu Mabuza, chairperson of the power utility has said.

Mabuza was speaking at a briefing on Eskom's interim results, at Megawatt Park on Thursday. He used the opportunity to defend De Ruyter's appointment, which has been criticised by the Economic Freedom Fighters and some unions.

While political parties ANC and DA supported de Ruyter's appointment, the EFF labelled his appointment as "anti-transformation". Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu has said De Ruyter's appointment was the first step in strengthening the power utility and not a reversal of government's policy on transformation.

Speaking at the briefing, Mabuza said that de Ruyter's appointment went through the most "credible" and "thorough" process. Mabuza said that there has been "no script" on who to appoint and that the board was tasked to find a CEO that it could work with.

"We are satisfied as the board of Eskom and we are very grateful that the shareholder [government] having followed its own rigour, has come to the same conclusion that Andre de Ruyter now is the most suitable, able, available and willing South African to take this job," he said.

There were 142 applications before Eskom settled on six candidates to be interviewed. Of these six there were four white candidates and two black candidates, Mabuza said. Two of the white candidates were non-South African and one of the black candidates was also non-South African, Mabuza added.

"Those were the six candidates, not the names you have seen in the list, that members of the media were disappointed we did not appoint from that list," he quipped.

Mabuza also pleaded with South Africans to give De Ruyter the space and time to lead Eskom amid the challenges it is facing.

De Ruyter is currently the boss of JSE-listed packaging company Nampak. Among the criticisms levelled against de Ruyter on social media are those relating to the fall in Nampak's share price under his watch.

Nampak released its interim results this week, reflecting a 69% drop in headline earnings per share. The share price dropped as much as 17% following the release of the results, Fin24 previously reported.

Mabuza hit back at these criticisms. "Share price is an important indicator, but it is not the only indicator," he said.

"'We are satisfied that Andre is the man for the now," he said. De Ruyter was not only willing to take on a lesser paying job, but also to take less than the average earned by Eskom's last three CEOs.

Mabuza said this was an example to other stakeholders of the power utility to make similar sacrifices.