Business Unity South Africa and Business Leadership South Africa – two independent business associations – have issued a joint response to Andre de Ruyter’s allegations that corruption is rife in Eskom and that ministers and advisors in the Presidency knew about the continued high levels of corruption and apparently did nothing about it.
The statement says that business had carefully considered the latest developments at Eskom. Its response was informed by the concern it has about the impact these developments were likely to have on the efforts it was making to stabilise energy supply, fight against crime and corruption and improve investor confidence.
These bodies acknowledged that while the allegations of corruption made by Andre de Ruyter remain unproven, it takes these allegations extremely seriously, particularly because of allegations that ministers and advisors in the Presidency knew about the continued high levels of corruption and apparently did nothing about it. BUSA and BLSA say they believed that these allegations, if correct, would be extremely damaging to Eskom, the efforts to address the energy crisis, and to the nation.
Therefore, these serious allegations required an urgent response from the government and appropriate agencies of state to ensure that the truth was uncovered, and appropriate action taken. The allegations threw serious doubts on the ability of the power utility to appropriately manage its resources, including additional resources allocated in the recent budget.
The two business associations insist that all major procurement contracts, including those related to the US$8,5 billion climate change fund, be transparent to assure the public that proper processes and structures were in place to prevent any corruption and to hold those responsible to account.
BUSA and BLSA condemned the attacks on de Ruyter, irrespective of which quarter they came from. Reactions like these, the associations say, add credence to accusations that whistle-blowers were often treated as the criminals they unmask.
The two bodies did not comment on reactions from political parties but urged Government to act responsibly and give the country the confidence that they would address the allegations speedily and responsibly. This was particularly important in the midst of the energy crisis the country was facing and the centrality of Eskom in that crisis.
It is a symptom, they added, of the current conjuncture in South Africa that, in the midst of the most serious energy crisis it has ever faced, efforts to address the crisis could be compromised or delayed by these latest developments. As serious as these developments are, Government and business must continue working together to implement the Energy Action Plan driven through NECOM as quickly as possible.
Business was committed to continue working with Government to ensure urgent implementation of the plan and recognised that Eskom was a critical element of the plan. They urged the Eskom board to urgently address the leadership vacuum at Eskom, to appoint a CEO and full EXCO team with appropriate capacity and expertise and be transparent about their reporting lines and responsibilities and to assure the public they will be held accountable for performance under their control.
The associations also urged that a critical part of the Energy Action Plan must be to instil an appropriate culture in Eskom with values of honesty, integrity, excellence, ethics, and accountability.
BUSA is a non-profit company representing cross-cutting organised business interests in South Africa.
Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) is an independent association whose members include the leaders of some of South Africa’s biggest and most well-known businesses.