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I will stabilise state utilities - Zuma

By Zukile Majova | Nov 16, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has assured the nation that his government would stabilise state-owned enterprises following the power struggles at Eskom.

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has assured the nation that his government would stabilise state-owned enterprises following the power struggles at Eskom.

Yesterday it was not clear how the president would end the crisis at Eskom.

Zuma said the ANC and the government would not shift from their agenda of affirming black Africans into senior positions in strategic sectors of the economy.

This follows reports that senior business leaders such as former Eskom board chairman Bobby Godsell who were resigning from parastatals were doing so in opposition to transformation and the placing of blacks in powerful positions.

The ANC Youth League had claimed the Eskom board sought to remove former chief executive Jacob Maroga because he had wanted to improve the pace of transformation at Megawatt Park.

"The pressures currently facing our state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have led to sharp debates about the imperatives of transformation, leading to questions as to whether or not the departure of some managers in some of these institutions was driven by opposition to transformation," the president's statement read.

"There have been fears that affirmative action gains are being reversed and that the ANC government was not acting to stop this perceived erosion.

"It would not be wise to oversimplify the challenges facing SEOs and other sections of the state machinery.

"We are attending to these matters as government, as part of the overall transformation of our government machinery."

Writing in the ANC online publication ANC Today, Zuma said the government had full confidence in Minister Barbara Hogan's leadership skills and the board of the parastatals.

"We will not delve into what happens in the boardrooms of the SOEs, as that is a matter of the boards that run those institutions.

"As shareholders, the government appoints a board that works with the minister responsible, who provides political leadership to the entities.

"We have full confidence in the boards and the minister and trust them to run the institutions in the interests of both the government and the people of South Africa," he said.

To ensure real transformation of the economy, Zuma said the government was ready to appoint a broad-based black economic empowerment advisory council.

The council would review all BEE deals to ensure that the wealth and benefit resulting from these projects did extend to all communities.

"To further streamline our transformation work, we are appointing a BBBEE advisory council, which in terms of the BBBEE Act will be chaired by the president of the republic.

"This process should be completed in a few weeks time.

"The council's responsibility will be to advise government on black economic empowerment, monitor implementation and review progress."

In his "Letter from the President"for this week, Zuma said all levels of government had been instructed to pay small and medium enterprises rendering services to the state within 30 days.

A number of SMMEs had gone belly up because government departments take a minimum of 90 days to pay for services rendered, he said.

"Our meetings with black business sensitised us to some actions that hamper the development of small entrepreneurs.

"One of these is the delays in paying small businesses," he said.

"We were informed that many black businesses rely on effective cash-flow management, and that waiting 90 days for government to pay is proving most detrimental.

"Treasury regulations on the approval of expenditure in government state that unless determined otherwise in a contract or other agreement all payments due to creditors must be settled within 30 days from receipt of an invoice or, in the case of civil claims, from the date of settlement or court judgment.

"We have instructed all government departments to comply with this regulation without delay."


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