In what seemed like a warning to one of his high-ranking lieutenants, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, President Cyril Ramaphosa said leaders should stop interfering with the boards of state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
Speaking at the closing of the party’s annual lekgotla, Ramaphosa focused some of his address on the structuring and restructuring of SOEs.
Gordhan has been widely criticised for his handling of SOEs, which has led to calls for his resignation by the EFF and ANC alliance partner Cosatu.
“We should avoid political interference in operational matters of our SOEs and if there is to be any, it should be strategic matters and also where there is mismanagement and a clear company failure,” Ramaphosa said.
Last year, while reporting to parliament’s standing committee on appropriations, Eskom board member Busisiwe Mavuso said the power utility had experienced intense political pressure to keep the lights on irrespective of the cost.
Mavuso complained to parliament that board members were unable to make hard decisions because of an interfering shareholder. Gordhan is the shareholder representative at Eskom.
This sentiment was seemingly shared by former Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe and SAA head Vuyani Jarana who resigned within days of each other in June.
In his resignation letter, Jarana said “lack of commitment to fund SAA is systematically undermining the implementation of the strategy, making it increasingly difficult to succeed”.
Gordhan, however, defended himself in written responses to the EFF’s parliamentary questions, saying a 100% shareholder, as with the government, at SOEs could have a range of rights in relation to their governance, Business Day reported.
He added the shareholder department should hold the board accountable and at critical stages of an entity, the shareholder might initiate processes to assist both the shareholder and board to both diagnose a problem and suggest solutions.
Ramaphosa also spoke out against dissenting voices within the party, saying the national executive committee (NEC) had agreed to speak in one unified voice as different individuals.
News24 earlier reported Finance Minister Tito Mboweni was taken to task at the NEC meeting for his tweets in which he expressed frustration over Nasrec resolutions on the SA Reserve Bank, saying they were wrong.
Mboweni’s tweets led to Luthuli House releasing a statement denouncing his public views.