SAA and Eskom might be failing, but ANC insists that no SOEs will be privatised

11 December 2019 - 15:32 By Amil Umraw
ANC secretary general Ace Magashule... 'We are not privatising anything.'
ANC secretary general Ace Magashule... 'We are not privatising anything.'
Image: Masi Losi

Despite intensive load-shedding and the financial crisis at SAA, the ANC remains adamant that none of the country’s state-owned enterprises will be privatised.

Speaking on Wednesday about the outcomes of the ANC’s national executive committee meeting this past weekend, party secretary-general Ace Magashule said members discussed various methods to fix Eskom and SAA in particular.

“The NEC expressed deep concern regarding the social and economic impact of the resumption of load-shedding by Eskom, especially on jobs, small businesses and households,” Magashule said. “The NEC noted with concerns the situation confronting critical SOEs and the need to ensure they play their role in the economy and meet our nation’s developmental goals.”

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Magashule said the NEC received a report from the government on the situation at Eskom and SAA.

“The NEC received a report on the situation and commended the decisive intervention by the president of the republic to save SAA, as well as the consultative process that preceded that decision.

“NEC called for a comprehensive approach as well as bold and creative solutions that give effect to resolutions of the national conference,” he said.

However, Magashule also issued a stern, cryptic warning to ministers deployed by the party.  

“The NEC wants to send a very clear message that there is no one who is above the national conference as well as the national implementation manifesto resolutions,” he said.

Magashule would not say if he was speaking about anybody in particular.

Answering questions from the media, ANC spokesperson Dakota Legoete said though the government was considering private financing models for SOEs, it does not mean that state assets will be privatised.

“We discussed SOEs, we discussed models of equity partners; whether we look out for private capital, whether we look out for other SOEs, whether we look out for ordinary South Africans, whether we ring-fence a certain percentage of equity to a sovereign wealth fund,” he said.

“Cabinet and government will make an announcement in due time ... We are not privatising state assets; we are only bringing in equity partners.”

Expanding on Legoete’s comment, Magashule explained that the ANC was taking a “comprehensive approach” to fixing SOEs and agreed with the move to place SAA under business rescue.

“We have taken a decision as the NEC that we should not deal with SOEs one by one; we need a comprehensive approach, not an ad hoc approach ... so that we get solutions as we move forward. We have discussed the importance of that business rescue; it is not privatisation,” he said.

“We are not going to privatise anything. We have policy positions; what we need to be doing at all times will be guided by policy conference decisions.

“We believe our deployees at government at all material times ... whenever you take a decision please ensure that first and foremost structures are engaged. We don’t want structures to rubber-stamp decisions.”