Another problem, another committee
Zuma’s dithering adds to ANC’s internal tensions
PRESIDENT JACOB ZUMA’S decision to appoint yet another committee to review State-owned enterprises (SOEs) – billed as one that will provide an independent perspective – hasn’t only raised eyebrows in his Cabinet but also reinforced Zuma’s political vulnerability and, therefore, his being unable to stamp his authority, especially when it comes to the obvious but tough decisions that need to be made for South Africa’s SOE sector.
There’s no doubt SOEs – several of which are dealing with leadership and financial crises that threaten to undermine SA’s State-sponsored and SOE-driven infrastructure spending programme – have become an increasing source of tension in the ANC itself, as well as between the ruling party and its labour and communist alliance partners. Aside from differences of opinion about how SOEs should be run, how they should balance development and profit objectives and what role the State should play in supporting those, the real nub of the SOE problem is the degree to which they’ve become politicised.
That, plus the paralysing consequences of politicisation, was clearly demonstrated last year when Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda and Justice & Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe boldly stepped into Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan’s turf by publicly dismissing disciplinary action against Siyabonga Gama and calling for him to be installed as Transnet CEO. Hogan has yet to appoint a CEO for Transnet.