At a press briefing to detail the outcomes of a Lekgotla the ANC held on 19 and 20 January, ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule said the party had reached consensus on certain issues, including on the way forward regarding South Africa’s struggling state-owned enterprises.
Magashule hinted that those hoping for partial privatisation of SOEs from within the ANC have been met with push-back, adding that the party did not even want to let go of national carrier South African Airways (SAA), which has been placed under business rescue and wants another bailout from government to the tune of R2 billion in February.
“We believe that SAA should be retained as a national airline,” he said.
Magashule said the ANC had undertaken to investigate so-called “evergreen contracts” given by SAA to some service providers. SAA Technical (SAAT) is among companies accused of having flouted procurement regulations and had their contracts renewed without a tender process.
According to Magashule, detailed inputs will be shared by the ANC on Eskom and SAA in time.
Regarding Eskom, Magashule expressed trust in the struggling energy utility’s new management is and its ability to improve the quality of engineering and increase supply.
He added that the ANC has undertaken to make the collection of outstanding money owed to Eskom a priority.
Magashule noted that South Africa’s 25 SOEs employ roughly 175,000 workers.
“Public enterprise need to play a developmental role especially in the production of goods and services,” he said.
“There should be a proper assessment of the public enterprises’ strategic importance for the developmental agenda.
“The mandate must be clear, costed (sic) and monitored consistently to ensure successful restructuring programs.
Magashule claims the ANC has reached consensus with government over “interference” in the operational matters of SOEs.
“We have agreed, as the president says, that we don’t need any interference in operational matters other than intervention in the case of mismanagement and possible company failure,” he said.
The ANC secretary-general did not mention whether or not the party has reached a consensus regarding nationalisation of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB).
Recently, the party issued a statement chastising Finance Minister Tito Mboweni for going against the party line and questioning the ANC’s resolution calling for the bank to be nationalised.
There has been policy uncertainty surrounding the issue, with Ramaphosa saying at the state of the nation address in June last year that the bank must retain its independence, which Magashule responded to by saying he was in agreement, and that this did not contradict any ANC resolutions.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)