EFF returns to form in parly, but Gordhan soldiers on

The National Assembly. Picture: Amanda Watson

As usual in parliament, once the EFF was ejected the person speaking went on anyway – but the news was not good.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) returned to form yesterday in parliament as it “dealt” with “constitutional delinquent” – Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan – by threatening him before eventually being evicted.

Even as Gordhan entered the chamber to deliver his 2019- 20 public enterprises budget speech, boos could be heard.

The EFF interrupted Gordhan’s speech and when EFF MP Sam Matiase called Gordhan a constitutional delinquent, House chair Mmatlala Boroto threw the entire EFF contingent out after she asked them if Gordhan would be allowed to speak and some appeared to reply no.

Matiase then stormed Gordhan’s lectern, followed by about 14 members of the EFF, prompting the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) John Steenhuisen to stand next to Gordhan.

ALSO READ: WATCH: Battle between Gordhan and EFF escalates

“No, no, no, they must touch me. They must touch me,” Gordhan insisted as parliamentary security officials pushed the EFF out, with at least one member being slapped.

Steenhuisen later tweeted parliament should be “an arena of debate where words, ideas and argument prevail”.

As usual in parliament, once the EFF was ejected the person speaking went on anyway and if anyone was expecting to hear about Eskom or the possible sale of SAA, it was bad news.

“The department collected about 3,000 forensic reports relating to SOEs,” Gordhan said. “So far, an estimated R600 million has been identified as collectable.

“The department is collaborating with law enforcement authorities to ensure criminal actions are reported and that civil recoveries are undertaken.”

Gordhan said after a decade of mismanagement, negligible board and executive fiduciary accountability for poor performance, malfeasance that enabled state capture, and rampant corruption at our biggest SOEs, “many are in deep financial difficulties and will be unable to trade their way out of their difficulties”.

He noted several new boards had been appointed to restore good governance.

However “progress in other respects has been slower”.

In order to deal with Eskom’s “operational, financial and structural challenges which have eroded Eskom’s cash position”, more money will be given to the power utility.

“In seeking to stabilise the financial situation at Eskom in the short term, the minister of finance will introduce a Special Appropriations Bill in parliament in the near future,” said Gordhan.

Transnet, Denel, Alexkor were all receiving turnaround strategies, as was SAA.

Gordhan said he was “giving consideration to the consolidation of the airlines, exploring the possibility of introducing a strategic equity partner, and assisting the airlines to secure sufficient funding to meet their liquidity requirements”.

The department has been allocated a budget of R293 million in 2019-20, R312.8 million in 2020-21 and R332 million in 2021-22.

The allocation represents an average growth rate of 6.5%.

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