Eskom board chairman Malegapuru Makgoba has issued a stern warning to the utility’s employees who falsely accuse their colleagues of racism.
Makgoba’s comments came during the announcement of Eskom’s annual financial results for the 2020/2021 financial year earlier this week.
He urged Eskom staff to think about how these accusations impacted someone’s reputation.
“We must be careful to make frivolous or baseless accusations against people because they are of another race,” he stated.
“You can imagine what happens to a man or woman when they are accused of racism. Sometimes you will never recover,” said Makgoba.
He warned that Eskom would investigate allegations of racism, and if an employee were found to be lying to damage another’s reputation, they would be “shown the door”.
He further advised those uncertain about what exactly they were complaining about to rather keep quiet.
Makgoba’s warning comes after an independent investigation cleared Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter of allegations made against him by Eskom’s former procurement boss, Solly Tshitangano.
These included abuse of power, racial discrimination, poor governance, irregular recruitment, irregular staff appointments, and unlawful procurement, which came after the utility suspended Tshitangano in February.
De Ruyter refuted the claims, explaining that the suspension was about competence, not race.
“In effect, a simple and straightforward operational issue dealing with under-performance has been elevated to parliamentary level,” De Ruyter stated after Tshitangano’s claims reached Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa).
“Mr Tshitangano’s allegations are entirely without merit and appear to be an attempt to subvert Eskom’s internal disciplinary process.”
De Ruyter claimed that Tshitangano could not meet key performance areas, including failing to renegotiate payment terms with large multinational companies doing business with Eskom.
He also submitted an affidavit to Parliament with a list of the 21 charges against Tshitangano, which led to his suspension.
Scopa initially planned to investigate the claims against De Ruyter itself but put this on hold after learning that Eskom had instituted its own independent investigation.
Under the senior counsel of advocate Ishmael Semenya, the investigation found no wrongdoing on the part of De Ruyter or anyone at Eskom as claimed by Tshitangano.
In an apparent about-turn, Tshitangano denied making the allegations he sent in series of letters to President Cyril Ramaphosa and public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan.
Semenya described the retracement as “startling” and warned the allegations could potentially harm Eskom’s financial status.
Eskom said that Tshitangano knew that the allegations were wrong, egregious, false, baseless, and lacking substantiation.
The company fired Tshitangano after a separate internal investigation found him guilty of gross misconduct and breach of duties and responsibilities.
During its results presentation, Eskom also announced the outcome of a 12-month Special Investigative Unit (SIU) investigation into Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer.
The SIU cleared Oberholzer of sweeping allegations of nepotism, corruption, maladministration and conflicts of interest.
According to News24, this was the fifth investigation into Oberholzer that cleared him of any wrongdoing.