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Friday, 05 July 2024 14:24

Presidency to issue Gazette notice to clarify its role in coordination of SOEs.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has reaffirmed that the coordination of State-owned enterprises (SOEs) will be located in the Presidency during the process of implementing a new shareholder model.

Speaking during a briefing on how the multi-party government of national unity (GNU) would function, Ntshavheni stressed that, until the Gazette was published, reports regarding Ministerial roles and responsibilities in respect of SoEs, as well as reporting lines for companies such as Eskom, Transnet and Denel, should be treated as speculation.

No timeframe was provided for the issuance of the Gazette notice, but it was possible that it might be released only after an upcoming Cabinet lekgotla, which had been scheduled for July 11 and 12.

In terms of a proposed new law, the President will be the sole representative of a holding company that will house state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and will have the power to appoint its board.

There is growing scepticism among investors about the proposed legislation, which is purportedly aimed at strengthening the governance of SOEs and stopping their decline by reforming their ownership model.

The legislation in question is the draft National State Enterprises Bill, has largely been trashed by prominent players in the investment sector for being an empty shell and an exercise in rearranging the deckchairs on a sinking ship.

The key proposal of the Bill is to shift some SOEs under a single state asset management holding company (holdco) instead of retaining them under the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE), which was closed after the elections.

The amended National State Enterprise Bill, published in January this year, identifies the SOEs earmarked for transfer as Eskom, Transnet, SA Post Office, Denel, South African Airways, South African National Roads Agency, Airports Company South Africa, South African Nuclear Energy Corporation, Central Energy Fund, Sentech, South African Forestry Company, Air Traffic and Navigation Services Company, and Broadband Infraco. 

Maropene Ramokgopa, minister in the presidency responsible for planning, monitoring and evaluation, has been tasked with setting up the holding company. 

Before joining government in 2023, Ramokgopa held several positions in the diplomatic and civil service, including Consul-General to Mumbai, India, and special adviser to President Ramaphosa. She was the mayor of the Northern Cape's Siyanda district municipality from 2006 to 2009.

Ntshavheni also refused to elaborate on the DPE closure process and the implications for staff, saying only that it would be conducted in line with national macro organisation of government (NMOG) processes, which are overseen by the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) in the cases of a department's restructuring or closure.

"But the issue of DPE closing is not a new issue. The staff of DPE knew, everybody knew that DPE was going to close and the NMOG process is not only commencing now, it had already commenced," she said, indicating that the DPSA would clarify the position at a later stage.

She also stressed that the policies and programme of the GNU were still to be finalised and that the manifestoes of all 11 participating parties to the GNU were being analysed by the Forum of South Africa Directors-General to assess whether the policies outlined could feature in the seventh administration's Medium-Term Strategic Framework (MTSF).

The analysis would be debated at the lekgotla, where the MTSF was to be agreed and President Cyril Ramaphosa would announce the details of the MTSF during his speech at the opening of Parliament on July 18.