Johannesburg - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has criticised the “rot” in state-owned enterprises like Eskom and vowed to turn them into organisations that will boost the economy.
He intended to stop the maladministration and corruption should he be elected ANC president in two weeks’ time, and the country’s president after the 2019 general elections.
“Our people hate corruption,” he said at an Eastern Cape ANC fundraising gala dinner in East London on Friday night.
“They do not appreciate it when money that should be going towards sending their children to schools, to universities and building them clinics is being hived away to Dubai to go and feed someone’s family.
“We are not going to do anybody any favours,” he said.
S&P Global and Moody’s downgraded the power utility’s long-term credit ratings on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. The two ratings agencies cited poor governance as one of the reasons for their decisions.
This is while Parliament’s public enterprises committee is conducting an inquiry into allegations of state capture at Eskom.
“What is happening to this iconic company Eskom is really a shame,” Ramaphosa said.
“For an industrialised country like ours, which is ranked the 23rd-biggest economy in the world, to allow a situation like we have at Eskom to unfold is a shame.”
In what was clearly a campaign speech in front of an audience consisting mainly of businesspeople, he said state-owned enterprises (SOEs) would be brought into line.
“We are going to make sure that we bring in really sharp people who are not going to work for their pockets and families. We’ll bring honest people who are prepared to work for the nation.”
Those found guilty of wrongdoing would be punished severely.
“There is no accountability. You can go and do anything you like and nothing happens to you.
“Where can you wake up and go and transfer R100m into your own bank account and nothing is done to you?
“That has to come to an end,” he said to applause.
Another unacceptable practice was that people could “just lie” when they were asked questions about their responsibilities.
His proposed solution was that the country needed an economic reboot with a specific focus on creating jobs.
South Africa needed to be seen as a country of integrity that respects laws and where representatives the people have elected act in accordance with the Constitution.
He called for a skills revolution and said young people needed to become important players in the economy.
“As they get these skills, we want companies to create jobs and open up opportunities for them.”
He said the ANC’s 54th national elective conference, to be held from December 16 to 20, would be a decisive event at which delegates would adopt policies to ensure South Africa’s growth.
His competitors for the post of ANC president include former African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
“We are going to elect a leadership which our people want to take South Africa forward in a much better way than we have had in the past.
“That is the leadership you need to choose to support and stand behind,” Ramaphosa told his audience.SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE UPDATE: Get Fin24's top morning business news and opinions in your inbox.