🔒 Boardroom Talk – De Ruyter’s book (and SA) gets an Econ Oil test in the Competition Tribunal

By Alec Hogg

Former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter uncovered many really ugly issues in his recently published bestseller. And despite what his detractors suggest, he provided plenty names. One of them was BEE intermediary Econ Oil which, during 15 years to 2018, received a staggering R16bn from Eskom for fuel oil sourced from third parties.

In chapter eleven, Milked by the Middlemen, De Ruyter explains how a (full-time) senior Eskom procurement official, Thandi Marah and her acquaintance Nothemba Mlonzi got into the business by delivering fuel to Sasol. The company showed them how to operate as a conduit for the product, so Sasol could fulfil BEE requirements.  


Mlonzi duly registered her company as Econ Oil and with Marah’s assistance, in 2003 used the same modus operandi to start delivering fuel on the same basis to Eskom. De Ruyter writes: “In 2012 the company won a five-year contract to deliver fuel to 14 power stations, with only two going to another company.”

Legal firm Bowmans, he continues, “found extensive evidence that Marah had interfered in the bidding process to help Econ Oil….furthermore, she actively resisted any attempt by Eskom officials to subject Econ Oil’s invoices to closer scrutiny.” The scam also received protection from Eskom director Sifiso Dabengwa (ex-MTN CEO).

After a tortuous process which Dabengwa fought every inch of the way, De Ruyter has Econ Oil blacklisted from Eskom procurement for 10 years. In a classic case of a person with a spade not knowing when to stop digging, Econ Oil and Mlonzi today appear at the Competition Tribunal as plaintiffs demanding the Eskom banning be overturned on the grounds it is “an abuse of dominance”.

Only a simpleton would accept that at face value. De Ruyter terminated an Econ Oil gravy chain of epic proportions. With him out the way, those who were eating (to use ANC parlance) expect the feasting to begin once more. So, instead of Mlonzi, Marah and their Eskom insiders behind bars, they publicly argue for reinstatement.

Sickening. Roll on 2024.



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