President Ramaphosa meets SOE bosses

Thursday, June 6, 2019

The CEOs of State-owned Enterprises (SOEs) have called for a better definition of the respective mandates of SOEs and for government policy to more effectively support their achievements.

The call was made during a meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday when he met with 20 CEOs of over 20 key State-owned companies (SOCs) at the Union Buildings. The meeting was calledd to discuss the contribution these SOEs can make to economic revitalisation and social development.

Companies represented at the meeting included Airports Company of South Africa, Alexkor, Armscor, Air Traffic and Navigation Services, Central Energy Fund, Development Bank of Southern Africa, Denel, Eskom, Industrial Development Corporation, Land Bank, South African Nuclear Energy Corporation, PetroSA, Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, Rand Water, SA Express, SAA, SABC, South African Forestry Company, South African National Roads Agency Limited, SA Post Office, Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority, Transnet and Umgeni Water.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Presidency said the executives raised various concerns regarding the legal and regulatory environment within which SOCs operate, which are often ill-suited to the specific needs of entities and constrain innovation.

“They also raised challenges about the exercise -- by government shareholder representatives -- of their oversight responsibility and inconsistency in the appointment of boards,” the Presidency said.

President Ramaphosa is said to have requested the meeting to hear the views of the executive leadership of strategic state entities on the challenges they confront in implementing their mandates and the opportunities they have identified to strengthen the SEO sector.

“The President emphasised the critical role of SOCs in meeting social needs and driving economic growth, and reaffirmed government’s determination to strengthen these entities and ensure their sustainability. He noted that several entities are facing severe financial and operational challenges that pose great risks to the South African economy,” the Presidency said.    

The meeting recognised that SOCs have considerable resources and capabilities that, if better coordinated and managed, could have a far greater impact on economic growth and job creation. 

“This engagement has raised several critical areas that limit the ability of SOCs to drive growth and development. These range from inadequate capitalisation and poor governance to outdated legislation and political interference. 

“As government, we are committed to work with the leadership of SOCs and stakeholders to urgently address these difficulties. I appreciate the frank and open manner in which the executives have raised their concerns. Their insights and suggestions are truly refreshing and will greatly assist our efforts to revitalise our SOCs and ensure that they properly perform their mandates,” President Ramaphosa said.

The Presidency said the executives’ inputs at the meeting with the President will form part of the initial programme of the Presidential SOC Council, announced by the President earlier this year. The council provides political oversight and strategic management to reposition and revitalise SOCs as catalysts for economic growth and development. –