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South Africa: corruption costs Eskom $55m a month

A general view of the headquarter of the embattled South African main .....   -  
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South Africa

The South African state-owned electricity company, Eskom, is costing an average of $55 million a month in corruption, with the company burdened with debt and unable to produce enough power for the country's energy crisis, the company's former chief executive said on Wednesday.

In a remote interview with a parliamentary committee on public accounts, Andre de Ruyter confirmed his statements on the level of corruption at Eskom in a document he submitted.

"This is a conservative estimate based on my assessment of the losses incurred by Eskom that have come to my attention," he said in the document. One billion rand, the equivalent of $55 million, "is being stolen from Eskom" every month.

For months, South Africa's 60 million people have been without power for up to 12 hours a day.

The continent's leading industrial power is unable to draw enough electricity from Eskom's antiquated and poorly maintained power stations. And the situation could worsen with the onset of the southern winter and an increase in demand.

The power crisis is costing the economy some $50 million a day in lost generation, according to the government.

After years of mismanagement and corruption under President Jacob Zuma (2009-2018), Eskom now has a debt of 422 billion rand, currently the equivalent of nearly $23 billion, which the government is trying to pay off.

South Africa still gets 80% of its electricity from coal. A $98 billion investment plan was approved by rich countries last year at COP27 as part of an agreement for a "just transition" to clean energy.

Inducted as CEO of Eskom in 2020, Andre de Ruyter was abruptly ousted in February 2023.

Hours before his departure, he accused senior government officials, including a minister he refused to name, of being involved in the looting of Eskom's coffers in an interview. He expressed doubts about the government's commitment to fighting endemic corruption.

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