Corruption busters and excellent business leaders are among the big names that Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has pulled on to the boards of state-owned enterprises.
In an attempt to stem the bleed at entities such as Eskom and South Africa Express, Gordhan confirmed that he had appointed Phakamani Hadebe and Tryphosa Ramano as Eskom chief executive and South African Express board chairperson.
Hadebe, a senior corporate executive who has served in senior management positions in both the private and public sectors, has built a reputation of being instrumental in addressing corruption.
Two days before taking over as interim chief executive of Eskom, the specialised commercial crimes court in Pretoria convicted Philemon Mohlahlane, the former Land Bank chief executive and four others for fraud and corruption — charges that Hadebe laid against them nearly 10 years ago, after coming to the rescue of the lender in July 2008.
Since taking over at Eskom, Hadebe has been influential in establishing good governance at the utility‚ which has helped to stabilise the previously disgruntled entity.
A new board for airline South African Express was also announced by Gordhan with Ramano named as the new chairperson.
Though not lacking in senior management experience. as shown by her illustrious curriculum vitae which includes being the chief financial officer of PPC since August 2011, the president of the Association of Black Professionals, and president of Association of Black Securities and Investment Professionals – Ramano’s Achilles heel comes in the form of her previous role as deputy chairperson of the ailing SAA, and her professional relationship with former president Jacob Zuma ally Dudu Myeni who was chair at the state-owned company.
Ramona has a lot of work to do to gain public confidence that she will be able to revive the similarly mismanaged South African Express.
The members of the new board of South African Express combine a range of skills including auditing and aviation skills – as well as the well politically connected
The new board members include well-known ANC champion Ronald Lamola‚ Thulani Kgomo‚ Thandiwe January-Mclean‚ Kugan Thaver‚ Bongisizwe Mpondo‚ Hlengiwe Makhathini‚ Thabi Leoka and Ahmed Bassa.
When asked by a journalist if Lamola’s inclusion was not merely based on his allegiance to the ruling party, Gordhan was quick to point out that “Lamola has been practising cooperate law for the past 10 years, has been managing his own company and holds a master’s degree in cooperate law” so he was a valuable addition to the board.
Gordhan explained that South African Express had been in dire straits for some time and been crippled by malfeasance.
The minister announced that he had appointed an intervention team to investigate “what is going on” so as to “determine the entity’s technical capacity”.
Similar to Ramano, who was merely changed from SAA to South African Express, another familiar face on state-owned enterprise boards – Popo Molefe – was introduced as the chairperson of the interim board of directors of embattled Transnet.
The appointment was announced previously by Gordhan but also confirmed at the media briefing.
Molefe, formerly the board chairman at Prasa, had a troubled relationship with former Prasa Group chief executive Lucky Montana with the pair publicly accusing each other on numerous occasions being embroiled in corruption activities within the state owned entity.
At the presidency budget vote in Parliament on Wednesday leader of the opposition Mmusi Maimane expressed concern about this tendency to merely rotate board members.
Maimane said, “instead of merely changing board members, the Cyril Ramaphosa administration needed to sell off entities such as SAA which were just a drain on public funds.”
Instead of heading the advice Gordhan, at the media briefing, proposed a merger between South African Express, Mango and SAA.
Gordhan also announced that Cabinet had approved a board for Denel with Monhla Hlahla appointed as chairperson.
Board members entrusted with turning the fortunes of Denel around include Nonzukiso Siyotula‚ Mandla Mnisi‚ Nhlanhla Kunene‚ Professor Tshilidzi Marwala‚ Lieutenant-General Themba Matanzima‚ Gloria Serobe‚ Talik Sadik‚ Susan Rabkin‚ Sibusiso Sibisi‚ Thamsanqa Magazi‚ Hannelie Nel‚ General Siphiwe Nyanda and Kabelo Lehloenya.