Deputy President David Mabuza has spoken out in support of Eskom CEO André de Ruyter, saying that he inherited an ailing, unstable, collapsing institution.
“We must commend him for the work done,” Mabuza told eNCA.
Mabuza joins several high-level government officials who have weighed in on De Ruyter’s performance.
Finance minister Enoch Godongwana, and mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe, have both been critical of the Eskom chief’s performance.
Godongwana said that De Ruyter was given the luxury of performing a large amount of planned maintenance compared to his predecessors, but his strategy has not borne fruit.
According to data released by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), load-shedding under De Ruyter has been the worst South Africa has ever seen.
CSIR principal engineer Jarrad Wright published a chart showing the level of load-shedding from 2007 to 2021, showing that 2020 and 2021 were the worst years on record for load-shedding in South Africa.
The CSIR’s data also indicated that rotational power cuts under De Ruyter had cost South Africa over R120 billion.
Load-shedding in South Africa
Year Energy Shed (GWh) Eskom CEO
2007 176 Jacob Maroga
2008 476 Jacob Maroga
2009 0 Jacob Maroga
2010 0 Brian Dames
2011 0 Brian Dames
2012 0 Brian Dames
2013 0 Brian Dames
2014 203 Brian Dames/Collin Matjila
2015 1,325 Tshediso Matona/Brian Molefe
2016 0 Brian Molefe/Matshela Koko
2017 0 Johnny Dladla/Sean Maritz
2018 192 Phakamani Hadebe
2019 1,352 Phakamani Hadebe/Jabu Mabuza
2020 1,798 André de Ruyter
2021 1,914 André de Ruyter
Energy and mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe suggested in an interview with Newzroom Afrika that De Ruyter doesn’t know what he is doing.
“If the CEO of Eskom doesn’t accept that we have released bid window five—2,600MW—and we have released 1,995MW on the emergency bid, and they [Eskom] are the consumer, then he may not have a clue what energy is,” Mantashe said.
Pressed on whether he feels De Ruyter is doing a poor job, Mantashe declined to comment.
“I don’t do assessments of a CEO who is not in my portfolio. All I’m saying is that Eskom has capacity to be on top of these issues,” he said.
“It has engineers. It has employed a lawyer as a CEO. It has financial people. Collectively they have the capacity.”
The fifth bid window Mantashe mentioned refers to an independent power producers (IPPs) procurement process that resulted in 25 energy projects being approved in South Africa.
These are expected to generate over 2,500MW of energy (2,600MW, according to Mantashe) at 47.3 cents per kilowatt.
Finance minister Godongwana said that this is the cheapest rate achieved in the programme’s history and is among the lowest rates achieved worldwide.
However, Mantashe noted that there is a lead-time between the projects being approved and the power coming online. The capacity must first be built.
The emergency bid of 1,995MW Mantashe referred to is the Risk Mitigation IPP Procurement Programme (RMIPPPP), which aims to alleviate strain on South Africa’s grid and fight load-shedding as Eskom works to maintain ageing infrastructure and brings new power generation online.
However, the programme has been bogged down in legal battles centred around Turkish company Karpowership.
Rival bidder DNG Energy alleged corruption by government officials, and the case was postponed until 30 November.
De Ruyter responded to questions about Mantashe’s remarks during a media briefing on Friday morning.
He said that Eskom has not yet received final documentation from the IPP office to allow them to sign the power purchase agreement that would allow the new capacity approved by Mantashe’s department to be built.
“The maximum price methodology [also] hasn’t been finally addressed between the [National Energy Regulator of South Africa], the IPP office, and the [Department of Mineral Resources and Energy],” he said.
“We have been engaging with the IPP Office in this regard for a number of months now. They are fully aware of our need for more information,” De Ruyter said.
“With respect to the emergency power procurement, Eskom is not the party that is delaying the process.”
Regarding bid window five, De Ruyter said that Eskom is fulfilling all its internal governance processes even though they have not yet received final documentation from the IPP office.
“We expect to conclude our internal review on this by March 2022, which is the required date of completion from our side according to the IPP office’s programme milestones,” he said.
“The IPP Office, we understand, are aiming to seek for approval from their side in March 2022. We are not holding up the programme.”