Not afraid to swing axe
Makusi Gigaba is more than willing to get rid of more dead wood at state-owned enterprises.
"We need not be afraid to take tough decisions," the Minister of Public Enterprises said in an exclusive interview with The Times only days after he fired the entire board of South African Express - one of eight state-owned enterprises that report to him.
The minister is now sitting on a report about Transnet's costly multi-product pipeline. The cost of the pipeline has more than doubled during its construction.
Gigaba said he will soon brief Transnet's board on the report.
"I expect rigour and robustness from a board," he said.
Gigaba said he will "be active" in ensuring that state-owned enterprises reach the goals that the government has set them .
He has been in his job for less than two years but in that time has been busy.
- South African Express's board was fired last week after failing to present financial statements at its annual general meeting;
- Last year, Gigaba replaced the top management and board members at Broadband Infraco after reports of procurement irregularities. A new CEO was appointed earlier this year;
- He made changes to the boards of both Eskom and arms manufacturer Denel; and
- He has launched an inquiry into the remuneration of executives at state-owned enterprises. In the meantime, he has frozen new bonuses for executives.
Another report about state-owned enterprises, by a presidential committee chaired by Riah Phiyega before she became national police commissioner, has been completed. Gigaba is "looking forward to what the report will suggest".
Restructuring will give Gigaba all the more reason to crack the whip when it comes to underperforming board members.
According to Gigaba, not since 1994 has the government commissioned a major study into the workings of public sector companies.
Whatever the report suggests, privatisation, he said, is out of the question.
The Department of Public Enterprises is considering various models - such as state-owned enterprises in Namibia, China and Singapore - to see what will work in the South African context.
MINISTER HAS HIS PIPELINE ANSWER
PUBLIC Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba knows what happened to the R12-billion.
He has seen the report on the escalation of the costs of Transnet's multi-product pipeline.
The cost of the pipeline - a vital economic artery between Durban and Gauteng - has increased from R11-billion in 2007 to more than R23-billion in 2011. Its completion has been delayed several times. The first phase of the pipeline was opened in January.
"I got the answer - the explanation that I needed," said Gigaba.
And, he says, he will act within the month. - TJ Strydom