In a statement on Wednesday, the presidency said that President Cyril Ramaphosa met with the chief executives of more than 20 key state-owned enterprises (SOEs) at the Union Buildings that afternoon to discuss the contribution SOEs could make to economic revitalisation and social development.
“President Ramaphosa requested the meeting to hear the views of the executive leadership of strategic state entities on the challenges they confront in implementing their mandates and the opportunities they have identified to strengthen this sector.”
Ramaphosa said the entities were critical to meet social needs and drive economic growth, and reaffirmed government’s determination to strengthen them and ensure their sustainability despite so many of them facing severe financial and operational challenges that posed great risks to the South African economy.
The meeting is called to engage SOEs, as critical drivers of the South African economy, on the role they are expected to play to give expression to government’s vision of renewal, growth and shared prosperity. pic.twitter.com/YUne5lXoxo
— PresidencyZA (@PresidencyZA) June 5, 2019
The CEOs in turn asked for a better definition of their respective mandates and for government policy to more effectively support them.
“The executives raised a number of concerns about the legal and regulatory environment within which SOEs operate, which are often ill-suited to the specific needs of entities and constrain innovation. They also raised challenges about the exercise, by government shareholder representatives, of their oversight responsibility and inconsistency in the appointment of boards.”
All present apparently agreed that the state companies had considerable resources and capabilities that needed to be better coordinated and managed to have a far greater impact on economic growth and job creation.
President Ramaphosa said: “This engagement has raised several critical areas that limit the ability of SOEs to drive growth and development. These range from inadequate capitalisation and poor governance to outdated legislation and political interference. As government, we are committed to work with the leadership of SOEs and stakeholders to urgently address these difficulties.
“I appreciate the frank and open manner in which the executives have raised their concerns. Their insights and suggestions are truly refreshing and will greatly assist our efforts to revitalise our state-owned companies and ensure that they properly perform their mandates,” he said.
The inputs made by the executives at the meeting would form part of the initial programme of the Presidential SOC Council, announced by the president earlier this year, to provide political oversight and strategic management to reposition and revitalise SOEs.
The following SOEs were represented at the meeting: Acsa, Alexkor, Armscor, ATNS, Central Energy Fund, DBSA, Denel, Eskom, IDC, Land Bank, Necsa, PetroSA, Prasa, Rand Water, SA Express, SAA, SABC, Safcol, Sanral, SA Post Office, Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority, Transnet and Umngeni Water.
(Edited by Charles Cilliers)