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LETTER: SOEs will never overcome their problems, given what surrounds their management

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Sep 30, 2023


South Africa is facing a crisis. SOEs will never overcome the problems they face, given what surrounds how they are managed. The latest case is that of Eskom.

Nine months after the resignation of its CEO André de Ruyter, the board charged with the responsibility of filling this position and Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan are at loggerheads.

Apparently, the board completed this exercise and recommended one candidate to the minister. The minister rejected this on the basis that regulations require that he should be supplied with three names from which he must make a choice.

It is very disturbing that the board and minister cannot agree on such a mundane issue. For if Gordhan is right, does it mean that the board was not aware of this? Or – as some speculation has it – the recommended candidate, whoever it is, is not preferred by Gordhan and by extension the government?

Either way , this is just shameful. If the board is to blame, then all members must be fired and a new board appointed, because if it does not know basic regulations that govern the appointment of senior Eskom executives, how on Earth are they overseeing the entity? Likewise, Gordhan must be shown the door, if there is no such regulation.

Most probably, the Eskom board is right because it is just incomprehensible that all its members did not know about the regulation.

Which then points to possible malfeasance by Gordhan and the government that they do not like the candidate, whoever it is who has been recommended by the board.

If this scenario is correct, those board members should on principle immediately resign if they have any respect for themselves, because this would be a patent disregard of corporate governance by the government.

Indeed, if Gordhan and the government want their preferred candidate, then it is clear that they want to manipulate Eskom and have their own pliant person who will do their bidding.

Last, how are we going to ever respect the bona fides of whoever is finally appointed as Eskom’s CEO, given this fiasco?

* Dr Thabisi Hoeane, COD, Political Sciences Department Unisa, Pretoria.

* The views expressed are not necessarily the views of IOL or Independent Media.

Cape Argus

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