NEWS
01/06/2018 06:42 SAST | Updated 01/06/2018 06:42 SAST

Presidential Council To Scrutinise SOEs That Are 'Sewers Of Corruption'

President Cyril Ramaphosa says a new presidential council will oversee the financial management of state owned enterprises.

Hannah Mckay / Reuters
President Cyril Ramaphosa.

In a renewed effort to root out corruption at state-owned enterprises (SOEs), president Ramaphosa said on Thursday that SOEs will now have to report to a presidential council so that their financial management can be monitored. TimesLive reported that Ramaphosa made these remarks while addressing business professionals in Sandton on Thursday. He reportedly called SOEs "sewers" of corruption and "filth".

The event was reportedly hosted by the Industrial Development Corporation, attended by academics, businesspeople and other professionals.

He reportedly said, "The state-owned enterprises were sewers of corruption. A number of them were like where the sanitation had clogged up. There was rot‚ there was filth and there was deep corruption in those state-owned enterprises. We are rooting all that out right now."

He reportedly said all SOEs would have to report to the new presidential council.

"We are going to look at the balance sheet of every state-owned enterprise‚ scrutinise it property and see what is happening in each one so that the balance sheet management is no longer in the dark corner of some funny office somewhere away from that SOE."

Ramaphosa hinted at the possibility of such a council being established during his reply to the debate on his State of the Nation Address in February. According to Fin24, in response to suggestions from MPs on how to save SOEs, Ramaphosa reportedly said.

"We will soon be completing work on a new, centralised ownership model that allows for better strategic alignment, improved coordination and more effective oversight." He reportedly added that this might include a "state-owned company coordinating council", which had been suggested by EFF MP Floyd Shivambu.

At the time, Shivambu suggested that the council should provide "high-level strategic direction2.

Ramaphosa said during that address that government was also considering new ways of funding SOEs, including a greater mix of debt and equity financing.

Also on Thursday, Ramaphosa said dealing with corruption would define "this new dawn", and said the ANC was on the path to renewal, Eyewitness News reported.

"We need to restore hope in the hearts and minds of our people about our seriousness in dealing with that which made their hope to plummet. One of those things is the whole problem and challenge of corruption. How we deal with corruption will define this new dawn."

He encouraged the professionals to join his Thuma Mina campaign on Thursday, comparing those gathered to the intellectuals who met in 1912 to found the ANC.

According to IOL, he said, "As you're gathered here, I can call you the brain trust, the brain trust that was there in 1912 [when the ANC was formed]. 106 years later I can say yes John Langalibalele Dube, yes Pixley Ka Seme and many others...and say today you can safely state you have a replica of people sitting here."

Also on Thursday, Ramaphosa visited the home of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, apologising to him for the fact that he had lost faith in the ANC.

According to News24, Ramaphosa said: "I also want to apologise for that. We put you through a period where you lost confidence in the leadership of the country."