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One thing Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has in abundance is arrogance, as he proved at the Eskom briefing on Wednesday night.
When asked by a journalist whether he should not resign, as the political head responsible for Eskom, Gordhan responded that he wouldn’t step down “because I don’t run the plant…”
While he doesn’t fly the planes at South African Airways, drive the trains at Transnet or make the rockets at Denel, he is influential – as the representative of The Shareholder (the government) – in setting strategy and making appointments to run those companies.
The buck, therefore, stops with him. And his desk must be getting rather crowded… because Eskom’s buck is not the only one stopping there from basket-case state companies.
While the mess in these companies goes back years, maybe even decades – and taxpayers keep getting bled dry to bail them out – Gordhan has seemingly done little to arrest the rot.
In the case of Eskom, it seems to be getting worse. In any country outside a banana republic, such ministerial failure would mean the incumbent falling on his or her political sword.
That’s not going to happen here, though. This is South Africa and this is the ANC.