Powerful Actors and Organized Crime Networks: The Challenges of Investigating Eskom

The ongoing corruption allegations surrounding Eskom have been making headlines in South Africa. Andre de Ruyter, former CEO of Eskom, made bold allegations of senior politicians directly involved in corruption at Eskom. The allegations have fueled a boiling point in the public’s anger towards the company.

The CEO of Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA), Busi Mavuso, stands squarely behind de Ruyter and the investigations. She argues that these allegations are in the best interest of businesses and citizens in the country. The recent revelations that there are “powerful actors” trying to prevent the investigations from accessing the truth, not only raise concerns about Eskom’s corruption but also highlight the difficulties of dealing with organized crime’s networks.

Before de Ruyter’s revelations, he had approached BLSA in 2021 to assist with funding investigations and an assessment into the risks facing Eskom. BLSA reportedly paid R18 million for the investigation conducted by George Fivaz Forensic & Risk. Many reports have come out to question the investigation’s credibility and the reliability of their claims. Furthermore, de Ruyter is in the hot seat over concerns that he bypassed the protocols required to initiate a large-scale operation. Authorities are looking into whether he gave an unvetted organization unfettered access to the inner workings of Eskom.

Despite these challenges, Mavuso maintains that supporting de Ruyter’s investigation was essential. She believes that criminality, especially organized crime, has caused immense damage to the business sector, investment, and job landscape. BLSA’s investigations into Eskom are not the first instances of supporting law and order challenges in the country. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) engaged with BLSA after the Zondo report into state capture. The collaboration allowed BLSA to provide funding to deploy resources under the NPA’s authority and direction.

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Mavuso believes that powerful actors have a vested interest in sustaining their extraction from Eskom and other targets. Reports circulating indicate that Eskom’s favoring of certain generation sources over government policy can be traced to these powerful actors trying to sustain their interests. These vested interests are motivated both to challenge the transition to renewables and to extort and corrupt Eskom.

Mavuso asserts that cracking down on Eskom’s corruption is not only beneficial for businesses but also for the larger polity. She added that “we cannot shirk our responsibility to do what we can to improve the business environment and the lives of ordinary South Africans.” Despite the challenges, BLSA remains committed to its goal of promoting the country’s business and societal well-being.

The Eskom corruption scandals continue to highlight the country’s need to ensure corporations remain accountable to their actions. BLSA’s continued efforts are a testament that South Africa’s civil society is ready to fight against corruption and corrupt networks reigning in high places.

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