Minister Pravin Gordhan.
PUBLIC Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan’s broom, which is sweeping clean the failing state-owned enterprises, is being applauded from all quarters.

In Parliament on Tuesday, the minister said he would work to “recapture” the country's debt-laden SOEs after years of being milked of billions of rand by politically connected businessmen.

Jabu Mabuza, Telkom chairperson and president of Business Unity SA, was appointed Eskom board chairperson and former Land Bank chief executive and Absa Capital executive Phakamani Hadebe was named the power utility's acting group chief executive.

Former North West premier and Struggle activist Popo Molefe was appointed chairperson of the interim-Transnet board. He will be joined on the board by Louis Zeuner Ramasela Ganda Ursula Fikelepi Edward Kieswetter and Dimakatso Matshoga.

Gordhan yesterday said the failure of the Transnet board to act on damning findings of a report by law firm Werksmans was among the reasons for this week’s removal of the three remaining board members.

Gordhan said the Werksmans report was clear on what the Transnet board needed to do following the controversial R54.5billion locomotives contract.

With the new boards in place, there has been a revolving door of executive resignations, usually for personal reasons and with immediate effect.

Arms manufacturer Denel’s chief executive Zwelakhe Ntshepe resigned with immediate effect this week. The board appointed the chief executive of Denel Aeronautics Michael Kgobe as acting group chief executive.

In the 2018 State of the Nation Address (Sona), President Cyril Ramaphosa earmarked SOEs that were experiencing “severe” governance and financial problems.

Political analyst Thabani Khumalo said he had expected the radical and urgent changes that Gordhan’s broom mustered since his appointment in February.

“There has been huge damage done in the SOE sector for the last nine or 10 years. It has just been disastrous. It was almost non-functional and it desperately needed an urgent and decisive response,” Khumalo said.

He said the SOEs needed the touch of somebody who was aggressive in their approach.

“He is definitely the right person for the job. He is bold, brave and decisive and this is what is needed to save the situation,” he said.

Khumalo said the resignations by senior executives within the SOEs displayed the sense of fear that has infiltrated the enterprises since Gordhan’s arrival.

His no-nonsense approach and clear strategy were enough to make those who felt “uncomfortable” jump ship before the axe fell on them.

“They can see they are no longer relevant and the agenda has definitely changed,” he said.

Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) chief executive Wayne Duvenage yesterday tweeted: “We commend Pravin Gordhan for an excellent DPE budget speech and his clear intentions to undo state capture and return SOEs to credible, profitable entities. His recognition for civil society’s role in this journey is much appreciated.”

“The once-reshuffled Gordhan is doing the reshuffling now,” tweeted @kulanicool.

Gordhan said in Parliament on Tuesday that he planned to ensure parastatals had competent management teams and viable business plans and were re-orientated to their core functions, which included providing critical infrastructure and creating much-needed jobs.

Political analyst Imraan Buccus said Gordhan possessed the leadership gravitas to make the much-needed changes to the SOEs. He said it was poor leadership and corruption that destroyed a number of them. “I think Gordhan is one person with the historical and political knowledge and leadership to take on this role,” Buccus said.