Pravin Gordhan to announce board changes to SOEs

Cape Town – Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan will announce new board appointments for state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in his portfolio.

Gordhan has oversight over power utility Eskom, rail and ports company Transnet, defence manufacturer Denel, airline SA Express, diamond mining organisation Alexkor and the South African Forestry Company (Safcol).

In his budget vote last week, Gordhan unpacked measures the department is taking to clean up and reform SOEs. He spoke about changing the way boards are appointed, as they played a critical part in the strategy of state capture, Fin24 previously reported.

SOE boards have been undergoing a review process.

At a briefing ahead of the budget vote, Gordhan speculated that state capture enabled through the entities could have cost the country R100bn.

Since being appointed minister of public enterprises in February, Gordhan has appointed an interim board for Denel.

The board is tasked with implementing findings of all forensic reports and holding those implicated to account, Gordhan said last week. He appointed Mike Kgobe, the current head of Denel Aviation, as acting CEO.

Gordhan introduced changes to Transnet’s board, appointing Popo Molefe as its interim chair. Gordhan removed Seth Radebe, Potso Mathekga and Zainul Nagdee and appointed five interim board members – Louis Zeuner, Ramasela Ganda, Ursula Fikelepi, Edward Kieswetter and Dimakatso Matshog.

Prior to this, former Transnet chairperson Linda Mabaso resigned, as did non-executive directors Vusi Nkonyane and Yasmin Forbes. On April 19, Transnet chief financial officer and executive director Garry Pita also resigned, Fin24 reported.

Challenged by a funding crisis, airline SA Express’s board is also being reviewed. In the meantime Gordhan has seconded senior officials from the department to the airline while a process of finalising the appointment of a CEO and chief financial officer is under way.

Forensic investigators are looking into allegations of wrongdoing at Alexkor related to its contracts, transparency of its sales and marketing of diamonds, and the lack of information on sales, Gordhan said in his speech.

As for Safcol, the SOE is important for rural development, Gordhan pointed out. The department and Safcol are working on an investment plan to create more jobs and enterprise opportunities.

Eskom’s new board has been in action since January, before Gordhan took over as public enterprises minister. The board has been tasked with instituting a culture of effective and transparent governance.

Eskom has been conducting lifestyle audits of officials which are expected to be completed in July 2018. The power utility said it has enough coal capacity to avoid load shedding in winter. 

The briefing where Gordhan will announce appointments is expected to start at 09:00.

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