Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies. PHOTO: ANA

South African ministers in Davos for the World Economic Forum have welcomed the tough line and decisive action taken on state-owned enterprises, in particular Eskom which last week saw a shake-up at board and executive level.

SA Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies, speaking to the African News Agency (ANA), said: “I’m encouraged, where I work, with the steps taken to improve governance of State-owned companies, because that was having negative impacts on us and our work.

“A number of resources went astray, which was bad enough, it had an effect on the budget which was bad enough, but also we were seeing a very important policy tool of localisation not being as effective as it should be.

“Questionable tenders often involved a preference for an imported product over a locally manufactured product.” 

Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Economic Development, also lauded the decision around the Eskom board, “replacing the board and putting a credible board in place and ensuring that State-owned companies are run for the purpose they were set up and not for any other purpose”. 

Patel further emphasised the need for integrity in  governance and the business community.

“The State itself has had real challenges with perception and reality, the reality of corruption, and these perceptions  have weakened the drive of fresh investment and the reality of corruption adds costs,” he told ANA.

“Corruption is not a victimless crime, it is a crime that  affects growth of economies and the numbers of jobs you create…it is a diversion of resources.

“Fighting corruption is an essential economic strategy, as much as it is important, very, very important politically, for the purposes of satisfying the needs of citizens,” he added. 

“It is a very important foundation of a thriving economy that you have integrity in your governance.”

Davies added that South Africa had committed to introducing stronger consequence management measures, with findings by the auditor general among the key steps.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday appointed a new Eskom board, led by Telkom chairperson Jabu Mabuza, and recommended that Phakamani Hadebe be appointed interim CEO of the power utility.

It was also ordered that all Eskom executives facing allegations of serious corruption and other acts of impropriety, including Matshela Koko and CFO Anoj Singh, would immediately be removed.

Singh resigned on Monday, the embattled power utility announced.

– African News Agency (ANA)