JOHANNESBURG - As Jacob Zuma sails into the sunset, the poor governance, corruption and operational and financial woes in some of the country’s state-owned companies (SOEs) remain his legacy of shame.
Pan-African Capital Holdings chief executive Iraj Abedian said yesterday that Zuma had facilitated the rot at some of the SOEs.
“He gave those who were doing wrong things political protection. Had the Hawks done what they did this week, much of the rot at these companies would not have happened,” he said, referring to the Hawks’ raids this week.
By yesterday, the elite police unit had arrested eight people in connection with investigations related to state capture.
Right from the beginning of his tenure as ANC president in 2007 and that of South Africa in 2009, Zuma emphasised the significance of SOEs in the government’s pursuit for inclusive growth, development and wealth distribution.
Yet key parastatals such as Eskom, SAA, Denel and Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) limped from one crisis to another.
In August 2016, the government announced that Zuma would directly oversee the strategy of SOEs and any government intervention made in them through the creation of the special presidential SOE co-ordinating council that he would chair.
At the time, Jeff Radebe, the Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, said the council would provide Zuma with a direct line of sight on strategic decisions and interventions to create SOEs that contributed to the developmental state.
President Cyril Ramaphosa. File Image: IOL
Zuma, however, took special interest in SAA, vowing to turn the ailing airline around just as former finance minister Pravin Gordhan’s approach on the ailing airline hardened.
Gordhan said he had agreed with Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown to explore a possible merger of SAA and SA Express under a strengthened board, “with a view to engaging with a potential minority equity partner”.
But Zuma ruled out the sale of the airline, saying unequivocally that SAA would never be sold.
Abedian said the country’s SOEs were in different stages of financial paralysis and ruin.
“Eskom is completely broken and ruined, thanks to Zuma and (Finance Minister) Malusi Gigaba, Brown and the Gupta family.
"Transnet has been looted but is not broken. Denel, Prasa and SAA are looted and paralysed,” he said.
Business Leadership South Africa chief executive Bonang Mohale said yesterday that President Cyril Ramaphosa should address the leadership, capital structure and governance problems at SOEs.
“Now that we have Zuma out of the way and the terms of reference and regulations are promulgated, enabling the Zondo Commission of Inquiry to be functional, we need it to be adequately resourced to begin its work of investigating state capture against key figures in the ANC’s senior leadership and in Mr Zuma’s cabinet.
"Technically, we have a leadership that is under prosecution and they need to be offered an opportunity to account for their actions speedily,” Mohale said.