Power utility Eskom has dismissed its Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) Solly Tshitangano for gross misconduct and breach of duties and responsibilities, among other charges.
This comes after Tshitangano was suspended and charged on several grounds of misconduct — including non-performance — in February 2021.
Following a disciplinary hearing on these charges, the chairman, an independent advocate, recommended dismissal as the only appropriate sanction.
Eskom abided by the chairman’s recommendations and Tshitangano was dismissed on Friday with immediate effect.
Eskom said that Tshitangano had sought to place reliance upon alleged disclosures to trigger a defence based on the Protected Disclosures Act and Eskom’s Whistle Blowing Policy during the hearing.
The chairman provided the CPO with an opportunity to answer supplementary misconduct charges relating to Econ Oil’s relationship with Eskom, as well as the apparent support by the CPO of the continuation of that relationship after he had joined Eskom in early 2019, before ruling on the protected disclosure application.
“While Eskom relied on the evidence of two witnesses, together with a forensic report from law firm Bowmans, the CPO elected not to give any evidence in his own defence,” Eskom stated.
“His legal representative did, however, cross examine Eskom’s witnesses,” it added.
The chairman dismissed the defence based on protected disclosure, finding that it was an attempt from Tshitangano to divert attention from his conduct.
He found Tshitangano guilty of the following charges:
- Serious misconduct in failing to carry out his duties.
- Contravening the Public Finance Management Act.
- Contravening Eskom’s Disciplinary Code by divulging confidential information to external parties.
Following his suspension in February, Tshitangano accused Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter of racism and abuse of power.
De Ruyter labelled the allegations as “spurious” and “defamatory”, and said they were entirely without merit.
The CEO said that Tshitangano was unable to meet key performance areas, including in renegotiating payment terms with large multinational companies doing business with Eskom.
“In effect, a simple and straightforward operational issue dealing with under-performance has been elevated to parliamentary level,” De Ruyter stated.
He accused Tshitangano of not taking steps to investigate alleged overcharging and corrupt practices by Econ Oil, a major fuel supplier of Eskom since the early 2000s.
Bowmans had investigated the dealings of the utility with Econ Oil, and recommended that Eskom immediately suspend business with the company.
However, Tshitangano had “approved and facilitated” the awarding of a further R8-billion in work to Econ Oil, De Ruyter said.
The allegations or racism against De Ruyter are currently still being investigated in an independent inquiry led by advocate Ishmael Semenya.