South African power firm Eskom loses $55 million a month to theft and corruption.
“This is a conservative estimate based on my assessment of the losses incurred by Eskom that have come to my attention,” Andre de Ruyter, a former CEO of the state-run company, has alleged, according to Africanews.
De Ruyter made the allegation in a letter to the South African parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (SCOPA). It has come amid an energy crisis that threatens to cripple South Africa’s economy.
The sector veteran has for months been engaged in a tussle with the government over corruption in Africa’s biggest utility power company. He had earlier accused some leaders of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) of crippling the power giant with their corruption. The party, however, hit back saying de Ruyter was trying to taint its image ahead of the 2024 national polls.
Ex-CEO allegedly survived an attempt to poison him
On Dec. 12 last year, De Ruyter survived an alleged murder attempt at the Eskom office in Johannesburg after he drank a cup of coffee reportedly laced with cyanide.
This happened shortly after he declared his intention to resign. His term as the company’s CEO was known for the purge of corrupt staff who had been reportedly sabotaging the power supply, damaging the infrastructure.
In February, however, De Ruyter was relieved of his duties.
In his submission to SCOPA, the former Eskom boss listed a number of ways corruption had seeped into the company. Coal theft, he said, caused its biggest losses as an estimated 5% of Eskom’s spending on coal—more than $27 million a month—was stolen.
There was also an alleged $22 million-per-month racket involving prepaid electricity vouchers. This is besides the alleged theft of fuel worth millions of dollars from power stations, according to de Ruyter.
South Africa loses $51 million a day to load shedding
South Africa has been facing its worst power crisis in at least two years, with citizens forced to go without electricity for up to 10 hours a day.
The country’s central bank has forecast 250 days of blackout in 2023, translating to a historic annual loss of $12.7 billion—$51 million per day. Last year saw more than 200 days of such rationing. This has led to an economic meltdown, with the phenomenon being declared a national disaster.
“We are [therefore] declaring a national state of disaster to respond to the electricity crisis and its effects,” president Cyril Ramaphosa said during his annual State of the Nation Address in Cape Town on Feb. 9.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has addressed the crisis by following emergency procurement protocol and unlocking more funds to buy new generators and solar panels.