Public Enterprises announces board shake up at SOCs

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan on Thursday announced several appointments to the boards of State-owned entities (SOCs) in his portfolio.

Gordhan, who has been in office for 86 days, said a number of SOCs are experiencing financial, operational and governance challenges.

“The boards of State-owned companies have certainly been in the news. In the State of the Nation Address (SONA), President [Cyril] Ramaphosa stated it very clearly that we want State-owned enterprises to be governed well and to rid themselves of State capture and corruption and to place themselves on a financially stable footing.

“We have repeatedly said that SOCs have a crucial role to play both in our economy and also in the development challenges that our country has.”

Eskom

As part of government efforts to clean up these entities, Minister Gordhan announced that Eskom interim Chief Executive, Phakamani Hadebe, who was appointed on a temporary basis in January, has been appointed on a permanent basis.

“As we are talking to you, this announcement is also being shared with Eskom staff,” said the Minister.

He said the power utility was operating in an environment characterised by allegations of wholesale corruption, a collapse in governance and an audit qualification on irregular expenditure.

Gordhan said Hadebe’s experience at the Land Bank and at National Treasury places him in a good position to steer Eskom out of where it finds itself today.

SA Express 

Turning to SA Express, Gordhan said the term of the board came to an end on 21 May.

Mmakeaya Magoro Tryphosa Ramano is the new chair of the nine-member board. Other members include Ronald Ozzy Lamola and Ahmed Ismail Bassa.

The inclusion of Bassa, who is also a member of the South African Airways (SAA) board, will enable government to better realize the synergies between the state airlines.

Gordhan said the new board has a mix of aviation experience, audit and accountancy backgrounds, among others.

The Minister said an intervention team at the airline, which has been in “dire straits for some time”, has been put in place.

“Last week I had to make a decision to put in place an intervention team. The job of the team for the last week or so has been to get into deep, technical matters and tell us the truth as to what is really going on.”

In addition, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has been undertaking an investigation at SA Express, the findings of which will be released in due course.

Transnet

The Minister also announced that a new board has been confirmed for rail, port and pipeline company Transnet.

On 14 May, Gordhan announced the appointment of an interim board at Transnet. Cabinet has now approved the 12-member interim board appointments, together with several additional directors who have recently been appointed. Popo Molefe will chair the board.

Denel

Cabinet also approved the appointment of the board of Denel chaired by Monhla Hlahla. The board also includes General Siphiwe Nyanda and Lieutenant General (retired) Temba Templeton Matanzima and Dr Gloria Serobe.

The Minister initially made the board announcement with respect to the aerospace and defence technology company in April.

Gordhan urged the new boards, which fall within the Department of Public Enterprises, to do their duties diligently with due regard to their fiduciary responsibilities.

He also called on them to re-instil an ethical culture at SOEs. 

“Clearly we have lost a lot of ground in this regard and the malfeasance that we all know about and the consequences of State capture run quite deep. Once you have such a deep culture of malfeasance, it takes a tremendous effort on the part of not just the board but also on senior managers to get this process right,” he said.

The boards must also ensure that good governance, accountability and transparency is restored.

“What we want to introduce… is that… forensic reports… must be made public,” he said.

Board matters at Safcol and Alexkor are still being finalized. - SAnews.gov.za

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