New blood, new vigour: Lynne Brown

2014-06-01 15:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The minister behind Eskom and SAA says she’s more concerned with efficiency than fancy new head offices

Lynne Brown, the new public enterprises minister, is well aware that her first order of business is to bring stability to Eskom and SAA.

Brown has inherited a messy portfolio from Malusi Gigaba.

Eskom, which is currently leaderless, is critically behind on its programme to build power stations.

Its reserve margin on power demand and supply is now at critical levels.

Despite the crisis, it has also been reported that Eskom is considering a R500?million refurbishment at its head offices.

In an interview with City Press, Brown said the Eskom refurbishment plans would have to be explained.

“I am quite prudent. They [Eskom] will have to explain themselves and make the case for [the upgrade] because I am more concerned about the lights going out in winter,” she said.

“Of course, I don’t know much about it right now so it seems very imprudent of me to make rash statements. But I represent the public here so I will have to do the right thing.”

Brown said her immediate concern with Eskom was appointing the right leadership, including the right CEO. Currently, the acting CEO is Collin Matjila.

“Almost as soon as possible, I want to make sure I get a CEO appointed. I can’t give a time frame. I would like to tell you in a week’s time but that’s not possible,” Brown said.

SAA, on the other hand, has had governance challenges and has recently announced its ninth turnaround plan in 13 years.

The airline remains unprofitable and reported a R1.1?billion loss in its 2013 annual report.

It has become synonymous with regular bailouts and, in the last 20 years, has received R16.8?billion in bailouts from taxpayers.

Although the minister said she was unhappy with SAA being bailed out constantly, she did hint that it needed more money.

“I also need to check if they have been undercapitalised in the first place and I am in the process of doing so,” she said.

Brown said she was not considering privatisation.

“In the short term, I think that debate [privatisation] is probably not one I am considering now. And as time progresses, there are other forms of financial modelling we can look at, for instance, private partnerships,” she explained.

Ministers in this portfolio have often been accused of pushing political agendas at the expense of efficiency or even profit, but Brown said she would try to limit political interference in state-owned companies.

“I don’t think there should be political interference in the board.

“I think one must allow the board to run its course but I also have taken an oath to play a very important role – but not an interfering role,” she said.

“I don’t run the company. I just create the environment for the company to run in, but I don’t interfere in the details on how to run the company, what to buy and so on. But I also can’t put the country at risk.”

Biography: Lynne Brown

She spent 20 years in the provincial legislature of the Western Cape.

Brown, who was born in District Six, replaced Ebrahim Rasool as Western Cape Premier in 2008. Before that, she was the MEC for finance, economics and tourism from 2004.

She was also chairperson of the standing committees on community services and on health and welfare, and was an ANC whip and chief whip in the legislature.

After the ANC lost Western Cape in the 2009 general elections, Brown was leader of the ANC opposition until May 2014, when she was appointed as minister of public enterprises.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.