Zuma ignores state owned entities in SONA

President Jacob Zuma in the National Assembly on Thursday night. (Screen grab from SABC)
President Jacob Zuma in the National Assembly on Thursday night. (Screen grab from SABC)

Cape Town – President Jacob Zuma completely ignored the status of state owned entity (SOE) reform in his State of the Nation Address on Thursday.

His speech did not mention the word once and only briefly spoke about Eskom’s commitment to renewable energy investment.

Governance issues at SOEs took centre stage in 2016 and Thursday’s speech came as Eskom’s redacted Dentons report was released to those who requested it this week.

The report pointed to mismanagement and breaches of the Treasury while South Africa suffered load shedding in 2015.

Brian Molefe also resigned as Eskom CEO in 2016 after the Public Protector’s State of Capture report pointed to issues with Eskom’s dealing with Gupta-owned Optimum Coal Mine.

The only major development in 2016 was the appointment of a new board at South Africa Airways, but with the retention of controversial chairperson Dudu Myeni.

SOEs were a major part of his speech in 2016, when Zuma said that SOEs need to be “financially sound” in order to contribute to the successful implementation of the National Development Plan.

“They must be properly governed and managed. We will ensure the implementation of the recommendations of the Presidential Review Commission on State-owned Enterprises, which outlines how the institutions should be managed.

“The Deputy President chairs the Inter-Ministerial Committee which is tasked with ensuring the implementation of these recommendations.

“We have to streamline and sharpen the mandates of the companies and ensure that where there are overlaps in the mandates, there is immediate rationalisation.

“Those companies that are no longer relevant to our development agenda will be phased out.

“Government departments to which they report, will set the agenda and identify key projects for the SOCs to implement, over a defined period. Proper monitoring and evaluation will be done.

“These interventions are essential for growth and also for the reduction of national debt levels,” Zuma said last year.

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