President Cyril Ramaphosa has vowed to change the image of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and restore their credibility, which was completely destroyed during the era of state capture in the country.
Ramaphosa pledged, after Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo – who headed the Commission into allegations of state capture – handed two reports to him, in which he gave a detailed account of how SOEs, especially Denel, SAA, and Transnet, were used by a “criminal syndicate” to launder money from them.
He made these assurances while delivering his State of the Nation Address (Sona) in Parliament on Thursday, which was held at the Cape Town City Hall because of the fire at Parliament on January 2.
Addressing the decay in SOEs, Ramaphosa admitted that state-owned enterprises play a vital role in our economy – from water and roads to energy and ports, to defence and aviation, these strategic assets are necessary to keep our country running.
“It is essential that we reverse their decline, and position them to contribute positively. We have, therefore, embarked on several immediate measures to restore these companies to health at the same time as we undertake far-reaching reforms that will make our SOEs more efficient, competitive, accountable, and sustainable,” Ramaphosa said.
He said the Presidential SOE Council, which he appointed in 2020, has recommended that the government adopt a centralised shareholder model for its key commercial state-owned companies.
“This would separate the state’s ownership functions from its policy-making and regulatory functions, minimise the scope for political interference, introduce greater professionalism, and managing state assets in a way that protects shareholder value.
“As part of this, preparatory work has begun for the establishment of a state-owned Holding Company to house strategic SOEs and to exercise co-ordinated shareholder oversight.
“To ensure that state-owned enterprises are effectively fulfilling their responsibilities, the Presidential SOE Council is preparing recommendations on state-owned entities to be retained, consolidated, or disposed of,” he said. Ramaphosa said any recommendations would be subjected to extensive consultation with all stakeholders.
“We are taking steps to safeguard our democracy, protect our economic infrastructure, and build safer communities for all,” he said.
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