PUBLIC ENTERPRISES COMMITTEE CALLS FOR LIFESTYLE AUDITS OF BOARD MEMBERS IN STATE-OWNED ENTERPRISES

Parliament, The Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises was briefed by the Department of Public Enterprises on its annual performance plan and budget for the 2019/20 financial year.

Foremost on the minds of the committee members was the state of South African state-owned enterprises (SOEs). The Chairperson for the committee, Mr Khayalethu Magaxa, said: We want to take the process forward and deal with problems in SOEs. We want incorruptible SOEs, profitable and sustainable.

Briefing the committee, Deputy Minister Mr Phumulo Masualle said the department is working on governance to stabilise SOEs that fall under the department. To this end, new boards have been established at Eskom, Safcol, Denel, Transnet, South African Express and Alexkor.

Yes, there are challenges in SOEs � the balance sheet, debt, but we have strategies in place, said Mr Masualle. South African Airways (SAA) has a long-term strategy and turnaround plan. The implementation of the plans and strategies will get SOEs back on their feet, he added.

He informed the committee that in the annual performance plan the department is grappling with the recommendation on SOEs made by the presidential review commission. The department is also tackling the drafting and establishment of the Shareholder Management Bill. When the Bill is passed, it will synchronise SOE management.

The committee welcomed the presentation, but members of the committee said burning issues in the public domain need to be addressed. The Deputy Minister has said there are plans in place and restructuring to address challenges in SOEs, but all the public wants to know is if these will work, committee members said.

On Eskom, the committee asked if there is a bailout and if there is a way for Eskom to finance its debt, considering that some of Eskom customers are unable to pay their bills.

Members of the committee called for lifestyle audits on all SOE board members, as well as director-generals. The committee was of the view that risk assessments are step in the right direction, but pointed out that based on the department’s presentation this is nowhere near where it should be.

The committee welcomed the establishment of the anti-fraud and corruption hotline, but expressed concern that the presentation did not provide an overview of cases already addressed. The committee also noted with concern employment equity challenges and the failure to reach targets, especially for people living with disabilities. The committee wanted to know what is being done to address this.

Furthermore, the committee would like to see the prosecution of those who have committed crimes.

Source: Parliament