Eskom CEO André de Ruyter has admitted that corruption is still rife at the power utility and that patronage networks still exist.
Speaking to Carte Blanche, De Ruyter said it is clear that the networks created during the state capture years are still active.
“The notion that state capture ended when the Gupta brothers’ plane departed Lanseria is not true. It is still carrying on, and it is still an ongoing battle,” he said.
Commenting on why corruption is still happening under his watch, De Ruyter said one man could not clean up the company.
“If you look at the 42,000 employees that we’ve got and you look at the patronage networks that exist, it is impossible for an individual, no matter how good, to fix Eskom,” he said.
“That is why I always say – I can’t fix Eskom, but we can fix Eskom.”
These comments came after De Ruyter said Eskom continues to face severe challenges, including senior managers not doing their jobs and employees ignoring alarms at power stations.
De Ruyter said incompetence and neglect by Eskom staff is one of the primary reasons for the recent bout of load-shedding.
It included an operator at the Kusile power station ignoring a flashing light on a control panel that indicated a low oil level, which resulted in a power generation unit tripping.
“When you look at the bad habits that many of Eskom employees acquired during the era of state capture – especially when some of my less than illustrious predecessors were in charge and pulled levers to enrich themselves — that embedded very poor operational practices,” he said.
“To unlearn those practices are going to require some doing. We have already made a number of management changes.”
The Eskom CEO added that they have a management gap at some of their power stations where the managers should improve their performance.
There is a command structure below stations managers where Eskom has suffered a depletion of skills.
“One person cannot operate a power station, which means you have to rely on the skills you have available. That malaise which crept in over the years will take time to restore,” he said.