South Africa’s Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, has stood firm in the face of mounting criticism from various political parties in Parliament, including the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the Democratic Alliance (DA). The accusations against him centered on his alleged undermining of State-Owned Entities (SOEs) and his responsibility for their subpar performance.
Defending His Position
Gordhan, a prominent figure in South African politics, has been accused of being a key factor in the woes of SOEs such as Eskom and Transnet. Nevertheless, as reported by IOL, he unequivocally stated that he would not be resigning and is committed to seeing out his term while taking responsibility for addressing the issues at hand.
“I am not going anywhere until the end of this term,” Gordhan firmly declared during a parliamentary session. He went on to affirm that he accepts responsibility for the ongoing challenges within these SOEs and emphasized the need for change. To this end, he mentioned that boards were actively advising underperforming executives to step aside when necessary, underlining the importance of improved performance for the nation, the entities, and individuals involved.
Resignations and Accountability
Gordhan’s appearance in Parliament occurred in the wake of resignations from key directors within SOEs, including Eskom Chair Mpho Makwana, former Transnet Group CEO Portia Derby, and former Transnet Freight Rail CEO Siza Mzimela. These departures have raised questions about the stability and leadership within these state-owned enterprises.
Gordhan was quick to assert that he was not alienating these directors and reiterated his support for their efforts in rectifying the challenges faced by SOEs. He further elaborated on the government’s role in holding board members accountable, stressing that boards themselves bear the responsibility of implementing turnaround strategies and effectively managing projects.
Acknowledging the pressing issues confronting SOEs, such as the ongoing problem of load-shedding at Eskom and logistics constraints at Transnet, Gordhan highlighted the critical need to address these concerns. The country’s energy supply and the smooth functioning of essential logistics operations are crucial for South Africa’s economy and its citizens.
Attracting Skilled Professionals
In response to concerns regarding the retention of professionals with the necessary skills in SOEs, Minister Gordhan revealed that the government is actively working to attract South African professionals who have left for opportunities abroad. Simultaneously, efforts are being made to create an environment that discourages bribery and corruption.
Furthermore, the minister announced that Eskom would have a new CEO by year’s end, signaling the government’s commitment to addressing the challenges facing the power utility. Additionally, Transnet is in the process of implementing a turnaround plan aimed at rectifying its declining performance.
Gordhan’s steadfast commitment to addressing the issues plaguing South Africa’s SOEs underscores the complexities and challenges facing these vital entities. As he navigates these turbulent waters, he remains resolute in his determination to see out his term and hold those responsible accountable for the betterment of the nation and its state-owned enterprises.