As calls for Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan to resign over mass resignations and the sad state of paralysis in most of the country’s state-owned enterprises, some energy experts and political commentators are calling for caution.
This week, media reports indicated that Malegapuru Makgoba, a former Eskom board chairperson, labelled Gordhan a “meddlesome minister” with a “penchant for interference”.
Makgoba is also quoted as saying: “Gordhan undermines the people he appoints“.
However, these accusation have been dismissed by energy expert Professor Sampson Mamphweli, who said the crisis at Eskom and other state-owned enterprises are not the doing of the minister but by a systematic crisis that has crippled SOEs over time.
Mamphweli said if there is to be calls for the minister to resign, these should be based on evidence and not politics.
“Any call for the minister to resign should be substantiated with evidence. We all know SOEs were impacted by state capture, and this has remained with most SOEs. So, the current state of affairs does not represent the minister’s performance but other things. The minister must be afforded an opportunity to defend himself,” Mamphweli said.
Mamphweli said if Mpho Makwana was pushed from his position as Eskom chairperson, he would have resigned with immediate effect.
Early this month, Eskom Board chairperson Makwana resigned from the position, just a year after he was appointed. His resignation was followed by that of Transnet chair Popo Molefe, who also quit the embattled parastatal.
Since then, there has been renewed calls for Gordhan to step down.
“Molefe has recently sang the praises of the minister in recent times. Mpho Makwana had a very good working relationship with the minister. That is what we have as credible evidence. Until we have something credible to the contrary, it would be unfair to call for the minister to resign.This could be just politics a play as we are moving towards election time,” he said.
On allegations that Gordhan only wants senior citizens and people over 60 to be considered for leadership positions, Mamphweli said there was also no credible proof except media reports based on a “purported letter from unreliable sources.
This comes after it was alleged that Gordhan recently took issue with Eskom board’s decision to exclude people over 60 from the recruitment process.
Last month, Gordhan wrote to the board urging the directors to consider candidates over 60.
“Even here, we are not sure of what really happened, and this has been based on a purported letter to be from the minister,” he said.