Gi­gaba pleads ig­no­rance of SOE rot

The Star Late Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Siseko Njobeni

HOME AF­FAIRS Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba yes­ter­day pleaded ig­no­rance to al­le­ga­tions about the rot that sup­pos­edly took root at state-owned com­pa­nies (SOEs) dur­ing his three-and-a-half-year ten­ure as Pub­lic En­ter­prises Min­is­ter.

Gi­gaba moved to dis­tance him­self from the push to cap­ture SOEs, telling par­lia­men­tar­i­ans that, as a min­is­ter, he had stayed out of op­er­a­tional and pro­cure­ment mat­ters. “I do not get in­volved in ten­ders. It is wrong to say that min­is­ters must in­volve them­selves in ten­ders. Min­is­ters must not get in­volved in ten­ders. They must stay away,” he said.

In his open­ing state­ment, Gi­gaba said the de­ci­sions he took were in the in­ter­est of good gov­er­nance. “I ap­pointed peo­ple who I viewed as com­pe­tent to ful­fil some very im­por­tant roles in the (state-owned com­pa­nies) that were un­der the (Depart­ment of Pub­lic En­ter­prises) port­fo­lio,” he said. “I am se­verely dis­ap­pointed that those roles ap­pear to have, in cer­tain in­stances, been abused.”

Gi­gaba’s role in Eskom, Denel and Transnet came un­der the spot­light at the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee on pub­lic en­ter­prises’ in­quiry into the mis­man­age­ment of state funds in state-owned en­ter­prises. Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans pinned Gi­gaba against the wall over ques­tion­able de­ci­sions he took at pub­lic en­ter­prises.

Gi­gaba said he re­gret­ted any role that he in­ad­ver­tently played in the ap­point­ment of any di­rec­tor who sub­se­quently failed to pri­ori­tise the in­ter­ests of the con­cerned paras­tatal and South Africa. “At the time, I acted on the facts avail­able to me, and made what I thought at the time were mer­i­to­ri­ous ap­point­ments,” he said.

Gi­gaba con­ceded that there were de­ci­sions that were in­ap­pro­pri­ate “in hind­sight”. He said he was not happy with the Gupta’s New Age news­pa­per break­fasts, which were largely bankrolled mainly by Transnet and Eskom. “I felt it was in­ap­pro­pri­ate that such large sums of money were be­ing spent on break­fast spon­sor­ships, es­pe­cially in the midst of such large-scale build projects that were be­ing un­der­taken.”

Gi­gaba con­ceded that there were de­ci­sions that were in­ap­pro­pri­ate ‘in hind­sight’.

Gi­gaba said he sup­ported Transnet board’s rec­om­men­da­tion of Anoj Singh as chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer in 2012 as he was con­vinced that Singh was the best man for the job. But he said, fol­low­ing new in­for­ma­tion which strongly linked Singh with the Gupta fam­ily, Gi­gaba ap­point­ing Singh was not the best de­ci­sion “in hind­sight”.

DA MP Natasha Maz­zone quizzed Gi­gaba about his re­la­tion­ship with Salim Essa, a busi­nessper­son with close ties with the Gupta fam­ily. Gi­gaba ap­pointed Essa to state-owned Broad­band In­fraco’s board in 2011. Essa be­came the chair­per­son of the en­tity’s ten­der com­mit­tee. Gi­gaba de­nied that he had a hand in Essa’s ap­point­ment to that role. “That was the in­ter­nal func­tion­ing of the board,” he said.

He also re­sponded to al­le­ga­tions made by for­mer Eskom chief ex­ec­u­tive Brian Dames last year that his ad­viser, Siyabonga Mahlangu, ar­ranged a meet­ing with peo­ple he as­sumed were mem­bers of the Gupta fam­ily, and where of­fi­cial Eskom busi­ness, in­clud­ing coal con­tracts for the power util­ity’s Lethabo power sta­tion in the Free State, was dis­cussed.


For­mer Min­is­ter of Pub­lic En­ter­prise and now Min­is­ter of Home Af­fairs Malusi Gi­gaba ap­peared be­fore the par­lia­men­tary in­quiry into Eskom.

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