De Ruyter not a whistleblower: Gordhan

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Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan claims that the former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter is not a whistleblower and that it is incorrect to say that De Ruyter, who left the country shortly after being discharged by the entity, is a victim in the saga.

“He is not a whistleblower. He was the head of the institution. Unless whistle a tune to yourself, then you can whistle. Nor is he a messenger… whom are you sending the message to? You’re basically looking at the mirror.”

Appearing before Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) on Wednesday to respond to de Ruyter’s allegations of fraud, corruption and crime cartels at Eskom, Gordhan told MPs that the way de Ruyter exited Eskom was highly regrettable.

He says he supported the former Eskom CEO when he was poisoned in December last year. He says he visited the family at their holiday home near Hermanus, after the poison incident.

“We had a cup of tea. That was my human solidarity to say been through a bad experience, we want to show support to you and your family. It’s in the book as well. However, this egotistical trip he is on is not serving him or the country in a positive way.”

‘Damning allegations’

The Minister says he was shocked when he heard the interview of the former Eskom CEO in February this year. De Ruyter made damning allegations during a TV interview about corruption, fraud and criminal cartels at the utility. Gordhan told MPs that he didn’t engage de Ruyter after the interview.

“I was shocked at the interview and its contents, someone sent me a clip, and I forwarded the clip I expected a response, but none came as my recollections. But no it was the board that engage with him. It’s the board that met and asked what do we do in this environment.”

Smear campaign

Gordhan describes de Ruyter’s allegations as a smear campaign covering up for his failure to perform at the power utility.

Gordhan has also refused to divulge the names of the implicated people in Eskom graft saying the allegations were untested.

Private intelligence report

Meanwhile, the committee’s chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa has called on Gordhan to get hold of a private intelligence report on Eskom, saying this is in the interest of national security. Gordhan has denied any knowledge of the report.

It was released after De Ruyter commissioned an investigation which revealed widespread corruption, sabotage, fraud and criminal cartels at the power utility.

Hlengwa says the report should be found. “The existence of that report is a threat and risk to national security….it must be investigated. It’s state information in the hands of unvetted people. It’s a dereliction of duty, putting it before you and Eskom. It must take priority.”

The head of the Special Investigating Unit, Andy Mothibi, has since assured the committee that they will look into the facts and circumstances around a private intelligence investigation into crime at Eskom.