Gordhan leaves ‘trail of devastation’

Henry

With his retirement from politics, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan is leaving behind a “trail of devastation in the sector for state-owned enterprises”, the DA said on Friday.

The 74-year-old minister, a veteran politician and campaigner against apartheid, is expected to retire from active politics after the general election on 29 May.

“Gordhan squandered the public goodwill he had at the start of his tenure as the Minister of Public Enterprises by choosing to appease the ANC. In the process he miserably failed to clean up the mess caused by state capture,” said Dr. Mimmy Gondwe, the DA’s spokesperson said about public enterprises.”

She believes that Gordhan has left numerous state enterprises in a much worse position than he received them – with some now on the verge of collapse – and that this is a big blot on his legacy.

Gondwe says that when André de Ruyter, Eskom’s former CEO, exposed the existence of deep-seated corruption in Eskom, Gordhan chose to side with his ANC comrades rather than investigate the serious allegations.

“He chose to victimize De Ruyter rather than ask law enforcement agencies to investigate the merits of the corruption allegations.”

“Gordhan stood idly by and watched as Eskom experienced one crisis after another. Since his appointment to his current portfolio, South Africans have spent more days in darkness than when the power crisis began 17 years ago.

“His failure to deal decisively with the load-shedding crisis makes him complicit in South Africa’s struggling economy, job losses, closure of businesses and the decline of investment in the private sector.”

Gondwe further says that Gordhan has provoked an unprecedented attack on the transparency and accountability of parliament, among other things with his “shameful attempts” to keep the details of the agreement between Takatso Aviation and the South African Airways (SAA) secret.

The government relinquished its majority stake in SAA in 2021 and made Takatso an equity partner to get the airline operational again. However, it has drawn much criticism and allegations of corruption.

The DA further said that state institutions under Gordhan’s control have become more dependent on the tax payer just to keep their doors open.

“As much as R213 billion of the R331 billion spent on bailouts for state-owned enterprises since the 2013-14 financial year was spent during Gordhan’s term (since 2018) as Minister of Public Enterprises. Despite these multi-billion rand lifelines, Gordhan himself confirmed that taxpayers could still only draw R1 million in dividends.

“For a man who has positioned himself as a campaigner against state capture, his continued respect for the ANC’s regressive policy of cadre deployment exposes his insincerity in the fight against corruption. Gordhan proactively worked with the ANC’s cadre deployment committee to interfere with board appointments at Transnet, Denel, SAL and Safcol.”

“Gordhan has himself to blame because he chose to be an ANC servant, rather than a principled civil servant for the greater good.”

Mixed feelings

Although the DA will not shed a tear over Gordhan’s retirement, the trade union Solidarity said that it will say goodbye to the minister with “mixed feelings”.

“We have worked with Pravin Gordhan on many levels, including at Eskom, Denel and SAL. Our experience with him was sweet and sour. His term was full of paradoxes. He was sincerely looking for answers, but his direct involvement paralyzed the management of state institutions,” said Dr. Dirk Hermann, managing director of Solidarity, said.

“He was outspoken in his fight against the consequences of state capture in the Zuma era, but corruption at state institutions ran away in his time. He was not corrupt himself, but the system he was responsible for was institutionally corrupt. He didn’t steal himself, but our tax money was taken and wasted. He started to open the way for private involvement, but his ideological framework was an obstacle for privatization.”

Hermann says Gordhan paid lip service to good management, but that the management of state institutions reached an absolute low during his term.

“He did not hesitate to replace boards, but they all failed. He realized skills were a crisis, but his racial ideology could not find an answer without race.

“Unfortunately the scoreboard is against Gordan. SAA has fallen, Eskom is in the dark, Denel has exploded, Transnet is off the rails and the ports have sunk.”