SOE board changes a blow to state capture – BLSA's Bonang Mohale

Bonang Mohale, the CEO of BLSA. (Gallo Images / Sydney Seshibedi)
Bonang Mohale, the CEO of BLSA. (Gallo Images / Sydney Seshibedi)

Cape Town – The state capture project has suffered a major blow with the changes announced to boards of state-owned enterprises, according to Business Leadership South Africa CEO Bonang Mohale.

In a statement, Mohale welcomed the changes introduced by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan on Thursday.

Gordhan announced new and Cabinet-approved boards at airline SA Express, rail and ports company Transnet and state-owned arms manufacturer Denel. He also announced that Phakamani Hadebe has been made permanent CEO at power utility Eskom.

“The appointment of boards is a critical step to restoring governance at these entities, and we commend the government for the urgency with which it has moved to establish stability and certainty in these public entities by appointing suitably qualified individuals with diverse skill sets,” said Mohale.

“Today’s announcement is a major blow against the state capture project.”

Mohale said that boards need to deal decisively with state capture and attend to recapitalisation at entities.

“The tragedy of the last seven years is that these SOEs were repurposed to facilitate the diversion of public funds to a few vested interests,” said Mohale.

BLSA’s members have pledged to partner with government to provide support in leadership, capitalisation and governance challenges. “Our members are willing to put resources behind this commitment,” he said.

The Black Business Council in turn congratulated Hadebe on his permanent appointment at the power utility. The BBC is confident that Hadebe can stabilise and turn around Eskom.

“He has proven himself in the few months that he acted as interim CEO of Eskom that he could establish good governance processes and address corruption and state capture,” said BBC CEO Kganki Matabane.

The BBC also called for the finalisation of appointments of a chief financial officer and chief operating officer at the company, as it will restore “leadership integrity” and “inspire trust to gain investor confidence” in Eskom.

Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) CEO Wayne Duvenage expressed optimism at the changes introduced, which will “restore faith” in SOEs. But Duvenage called on more whistleblowers to come forward to provide evidence of corruption at these entities.

OUTA said its case to have former South African Airways chairperson Dudu Myeni declared a delinquent director by the courts will be heard in 2019.

“We are hopeful that the new boards heading up the SOEs and a speedy state capture inquiry will lead to the past leadership being held accountable and through this, an acceleration of the fight to reduce wasteful expenditure of public funds in South Africa,” OUTA said.

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