Gigaba's 'China plan' envisages one master
ANALYSTS yesterday cautiously welcomed Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba's proposal that all state-owned entities be run under one department, but warned that political meddling and lack of government support could derail the plan.
Mr Gigaba's idea could clash with the National Planning Commission's development plan, which calls for less political interference in the running of state-owned companies.
After a visit to China, where he observed the political oversight of parastatals, Mr Gigaba suggested all state-owned enterprises should be managed through a single department, and should consolidate their efforts to grow the economy and create employment.
His spokesman, Mayihlome Tshwete, said yesterday the minister was impressed with how well Chinese parastatals worked under a centralised commission.
"Theoretically, Mr Gigaba thought we could use a similar model. Our state-owned enterprises need to work in a more co-ordinated fashion," he said.
Some economists agree the likes of the SABC and the Industrial Development Corporation would benefit from the leadership of a body with the capacity to make decisions.
Economist Dawie Roodt said: "It could make sense in theory. If it was well run, we could have a cross-pollination of expertise. A government could work well to manage the entities through one port of call."
Standard & Poor's MD for Southern Africa, Konrad Reuss, said the ratings agency would support the move as long as there was adequate government support.
The Department of Public Enterprises controls eight state-owned enterprises including SAA, Eskom, the Public Investment Corporation and Telkom.
"Only around 160 people oversee these eight companies. If my department was to take on hundreds of state-owned enterprises, we would need many more people," Mr Tshwete said.
Mr Roodt was worried politics could dilute effectiveness. "I hope he will not be swayed by a desire to expand his sphere of influence as a politician," he said.
Thick End of Wedge: page 8
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