Johannesburg – The head of South Africa’s beleaguered state-owned power utility Eskom, Andre de Ruyter, has resigned, the company said on Wednesday, as the country suffers from a worsening energy crisis.
De Ruyter, a former packaging executive who took over as CEO in 2020, will stay on until the end of March next year to give the firm time to look for a successor, Mpho Makwana, the chairman of Eskom’s board said in a statement.
“It has been an honour and privilege to serve Eskom and South Africa. I wish all the hard working people of Eskom well,” said De Ruyter.
Scheduled blackouts have burdened Africa’s most industrialised economy for years, with Eskom failing to keep pace with demand and maintain its ageing coal power infrastructure.
But the outages reached new extremes this year.
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Record power cuts have cost the country hundreds of millions of dollars in lost output, disrupting commerce and industry and angering the population, with lights going off often several times a day for a few hours.
Last month, Eskom, which is struggling under a 400-billion-rand ($23.3 billion) debt — half of which the government has pledged to take on — said it had run out of funds to buy diesel to stabilise the system.
De Ruyter had come under pressure from some government ministers that accused the company of not properly attending to the crisis, which analysts say is the result of years of mismanagement, disrepair and corruption.
“At a time when de Ruyter needed all the support he could muster and a free hand to deal with the most pressing challenge facing the country, he has been sacrificed at the altar of political expediency,” said Ghaleb Cachalia a lawmaker with the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party.
Public Enterprises Minister, Pravin Gordhan thanked De Ruyter for his “sacrifice and resilience in a difficult job”.
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