ANC's new plan to rescue problematic parastatals

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe says a new task team will be set up to look into the problems of the state-owned enterprises. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe says a new task team will be set up to look into the problems of the state-owned enterprises. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

The ANC will establish a new task team to look at the state of the crisis-ridden parastatals, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe announced on Monday. This comes barely a year after the presidential review committee on state-owned entities, led by Riah Phiyega, submitted its report to president Jacob Zuma.

The Phiyega report recommended, among other things, that some state-owned enterprises be disestablished, their functions returned to government departments and where there was fragmentation of functions between entities, these should be consolidated.

Briefing the media on the outcome of the ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting, Mantashe said the new task team was not a replacement of the presidential review committee.

“We are [concerned] about the [increasing] number of crisis [in various SOE] boards. The ANC must pay attention on those.
We are concerned about what’s happening in a number of state-owned companies,” said Mantashe. 

He could not give any detail regarding the terms of reference of the new task team. 

Increasing power outages by Eskom, management and financial crisis at the South African Airways (SAA) and allegations of fraud against the newly appointed PetroSA chairperson, Tshepo Kgadima, were some of the concerns raised by ANC leaders during the NEC meeting, according to ANC Communications head and Small Business Minister Lindiwe Zulu.

Power outages have cost the South African economy as much as R300-billion since 2008, according to economists. Earlier this month, Eskom had to resort to rolling blackouts across the country after the collapse of a coal storage silo at the Majuba power station in Mpumalanga. The power utility has been aware of the structural silo problem at Majuba since January.

Last month, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said the government was planning to sell off assets to help  fund Eskom.

Given its important role as a catalytic sector for development and some of the capacity challenges experienced recently, Mantashe said the ANC supports the efforts by government to expand the supply base for energy and incorporation of independent power producers in both coal and gas.

South African Airways
The infightings at the cash-strapped SAA appear to be far from over after board chair Dudu Myeni defied Public Enterprise Minister Lynne Brown not to suspend the airline’s chief executive Mnwabisi Kalawe. Myeni is said to be a close ally of president Jacob Zuma

Business Day reported this week that Energy Minister Tina Joemat Petersson pushed for Tshepo Kgadima to be appointed PetroSA chairperson. 

Kgadima’s suitability has been questioned following allegations that he committed fraud that led to the loss of millions of rand by investors while he was chief executive and president of LontohCoal.

Unnecessary headlines
Zulu said the ANC was worried about the parastatals making newspaper headlines on a daily basis for all the wrong reasons. She said the work of the task team would empower the ANC to take firm decisions on what needed to be done on state owned companies. “We can’t have all the entities in one trouble or the other every time. Look at SAA … it gets all the accolades around the world, but we are forced to bail it out from time to time. 

The task team must get to the bottom of the problem. These include getting right people into key positions. It can’t only be political appointment even when people are not delivering,” said Zulu. 

Corporate governance
Zulu said the task team would consist of members of the different ANC subcommittees and some external experts across all sectors.

“We will also look at all reports that are out there, including those produced by cabinet cluster ministers. The task team cannot work in isolation,” said Zulu.  ANC economic transformation head, Enoch Godongwana, said the work of the ANC task team would set the framework for the government. 

“It [the task team] will not reinvent the wheel. Its aim will be to ensure corporate governance, said Godongwana. 

Mantashe said the ANC also accepted the resignation of Pallo Jordan as member of Parliament and the ANC NEC. The party declined Jordan’s resignation as a member, said Mantashe. The ANC would continue to persuade its alliance partner Cosatu to bring expelled metal workers union [Numsa] back to the federation’s fold to bring about unity, Mantashe said.

While the party welcomed deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa’s intervention in Parliament, Mantashe said the decision on whether or not to suspend Economic Freedom Fighters MPs without pay should be left in the hands of the Parliament’s powers and privileges committee.



Matuma Letsoalo is a senior politics reporter at the Mail & Guardian. He joined the newspaper in 2003, focussing on politics and labour, and collaborated with the M&G's centre for investigations, amaBhungane, from time to time.In 2011, Matuma won the South African Journalist of the Year Award and was also the winner in the investigative journalism category in the same year.In 2004, he won the CNN African Journalist of the Year prize – the MKO Abiola Print Journalism Award. Matuma was also a joint category winner of the Mondi Shanduka SA Story of the year Award in 2008. In 2013, he was a finalist for Wits University's Taco Kuiper Award. Read more from ML

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