President Cyril Ramaphosa has seemingly rebuffed claims that he’s planning to privatise state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
In his weekly newsletter to the nation on Monday, Ramaphosa was categorical that the state will retain ownership of all “strategic” SOEs.
He wrote, “As we do this work, we are clear that the state will retain ownership of all those state-owned enterprises that are strategic.”
Strategic equity partners
“This is so that these entities are able to perform the crucial economic and developmental functions that the market would not on its own be able to perform,” he added.
At the same time, Ramaphosa said government will seek strategic equity partners at SOEs “where necessary and where appropriate” to help raise capital and inject skills and technology.
The President said, “This must be done transparently and in a manner that strengthens – rather than weakens – the ability of the state to meet the development needs of the people.”
He said his decision to put South African Airways (SAA) into business rescue shows government’s commitment “to take all necessary steps – even drastic ones – to restore [SOEs] to health.”
‘None of our SOE’s is lost’
Ramaphosa insisted that despite the massive problems they face, “none of our SOEs is lost.” He added that “they can all be saved” through “extraordinary effort and, in some cases, tough decisions.”
Ramaphosa has come under criticism from some leaders who believe his decisions on SOEs, such as Eskom’s unbundling and SAA’s business rescue, are a prelude to privatisation.
Over the weekend, Sunday Independent quoted unnamed sources in the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) who reportedly accused Ramaphosa of planning to “sell off state assets to pre-selected private partners.”
Ekurhuleni Mayor and ANC regional chairperson Mzwandile Masina also seemingly criticised the President’s decision to put SAA into business rescue.
In a tweet last week, Masina wrote, “Restructuring, unbundling, business rescue = (privatisation) which is not ANC policy.”
On Sunday, ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe said Ramaphosa would highlight the state of SOEs in his “political overview” at the party’s NEC meeting being held in Benoni, Gauteng.