Attack on Eskom CEO André de Ruyter over load-shedding

Eskom’s former chief generation officer and acting CEO, Matshela Koko, has launched a scathing attack on Eskom CEO André de Ruyter about his poor load-shedding performance.

This attack followed criticism from De Ruyter about Koko’s management at Eskom and for running power stations into the ground.

De Ruyter blamed Koko’s card system for incentivising power station managers to run units when faults occurred to avoid disciplinary action.

He added that the card system resulted in the manipulation of statistics related to unplanned breakdowns.

Koko was also blamed for forcing station managers to skimp on maintenance which led to higher unreliability today.

Koko hit back at these accusations in an ENCA interview, highlighting that Eskom officially confirmed that Koko and his team did not manipulate statistics and complied with regulations.

Eskom did indeed say that key performance indicators are audited internally and externally, eliminating material over-reporting of the energy availability factor.

“What you see here is a clear disconnect between the official position of Eskom and its chief executive,” Koko said.

Koko said his card system brought about a high-performance culture in Eskom. “If you did not perform, you received a yellow card, and you are out of the system. We were pedantic in managing non-performance.”

Matshela Koko
Matshela Koko, former Eskom acting CEO

Responding to questions about De Ruyter’s accusations, he said there is only one conclusion — the Eskom CEO does not have a clue what he is managing.

“How do you understate a breakdown? When a plant is broken, it is broken. You cannot keep the lights on,” he said.

“De Ruyter is clueless, and he is out of his depth. He cannot even spell what he is talking about. He is simply exposing his inexperience in the field he is operating in.”

He added that South Africa is experiencing load-shedding now because of unplanned breakdowns. Under-reporting can therefore not be hidden, as De Ruyter alleged.

Responding to allegations that he ran power plants too hard, he said there is no engineering concept to justify such a statement.

“In engineering, you have a simple rulebook — you operate the plant within the operating and technical specification. This is what my team did,” he said.

He also dismissed accusations that the necessary maintenance was not performed under his leadership.

Koko said planned maintenance is audited and reported in Eskom’s annual reports, which clearly showed maintenance increased when he was in charge.

“Planned maintenance in my time was the highest in the history of Eskom,” he said. “Where is the evidence that maintenance under my leadership was not done?”

Responding to accusations by De Ruyter that he is largely responsible for the current load-shedding mess South Africa finds itself in today, Koko slated the Eskom CEO.

“The sooner we forget about Andre de Ruyter, the better. He is clueless and does not know what he is managing,” Koko said.

He said De Ruyter has no idea how a power plant operates and what planned maintenance involves.

Koko added that during his tenure, they kept the lights on and had 4,000MW of surplus capacity.

“When we were in charge, we did not blame our predecessors. We did the necessary maintenance, and ‘almost good enough’ was not tolerated,” he said.

Instead of blaming previous Eskom CEOs, he said they worked hard to eliminate load-shedding, which they achieved.

Now read: Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter’s load-shedding disaster

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Attack on Eskom CEO André de Ruyter over load-shedding