An­other prob­lem, an­other com­mit­tee

Zuma’s dither­ing adds to ANC’s in­ter­nal ten­sions

Finweek English Edition - - Insight -

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.

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