EFF condemns Andre de Ruyter's e-mailed joke about Winnie

Fighters say racists have become emboldened over the past couple of years

EFF statement on racist emails from the Eskom CEO

3 October 2021

The Economic Freedom Fighters has taken note of the reports of racist email exchanges between Andre de Ruyter, the current Eskom CEO, and other executives while De Ruyter was employed by SASOL. In those emails, De Ruyter and his white colleagues at SASOL made racists jokes about Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, insinuating that while the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was the Iron Lady, Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was an ironing lady.

This country has a very long history of objectivizing black women, rooted in our colonial and apartheid history, which is still perpetuated to this day by the structure of the South African economy. Black women are seen as nothing more than domestic workers, who deserve no respect and honour for the sterling work they do across all sectors of society.

De Ruyter and his colleagues had no appreciation of the invaluable contribution that Winnie Madikizela-Mandela made in the fight for freedom in this country, and this is mainly because De Ruyter, his family and his associates were and continue to be beneficiaries of the system that sought to confine women such as Winnie Madikizela­Mandela to a permanent state of nothingness in the eyes of the white establishment.

It does not matter what contribution black women make to society, the level of their qualifications and skills, for white men like De Ruyter, black women will forever remain ironing ladies. They hold this perception for all black people, and even in the corporate environment, racists like De Ruyter treat black professionals in a derisive manner. We know this to be true even today when it comes to Andre de Ruyter, because he has been relentless in mistreating and even dismissing black executives ever since he arrived at Eskom.

It is also common knowledge in this country that racist whites like to view themselves as the engine of the country's economy because in their view, they are the only taxpayer's worth taking note of. The email exchange De Ruyter made, mocking our president Julius Malema seeks to suggest that whites must be separated from blacks because whites are taxpayers, therefore suggesting that blacks are not.

Andre De Ruyter and all racists like him are emboldened over the past couple of years because they know that at the highest levels of government in this country, they have their self-hating lackey pulling the strings. In a normal, self-respecting society, a renowned racist such as De Ruyter would be nowhere close to overseeing an important state company such as Eskom. He is there now, protected by Pravin Gorhan, who himself is well known for having disdainful attitudes towards African people.

We call for the Board of Eskom to dismiss this racist, because a person who holds these views must never be celebrated in this country. The protection he continues to receive from Eskom and government is simply disgusting, and an insult to the memory of Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and those who died fighting to liberate this country from the likes of De Ruyter.

Issued by Leigh-Ann Mathys, Elections Spokesperson, EFF, 3 October 2021