Mr President, please sack your “Darling” – Ghaleb Cachalia

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has been urged to immediately sack his “darling”, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. That call is being made by Ghaleb Cachalia, the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises. “In the private sector, if that was your responsibility, they would be holding your feet to the fire to say, deliver or go. And as he hasn’t delivered, they would show him the door.” However, Cachalia is not hopeful that the president will heed his call “…because he is the darling, if you like, the chief supporter of President Ramaphosa, there seems to be a lot of slack that’s cut for him.” Cachalia describes Gordhan as “a dutiful and faithful acolyte of the president”, and fears that the government will “let him run with some face-saving” until his term ends. However, he warns: “But his face will be saved while the country’s will be destroyed. That is the tragedy. And unless the president hears that – and acts on that, then the president is also culpable.” – Chris Steyn

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Relevant timestamps from the interview

  • 00:00 – Introduction
  • 00:36 – On the performance of Minister Pravin Gordhan?
  • 03:24 – An update on the board and executive at the major parastatals
  • 07:38 – What hope do we have that minister Gordhan will be sacked?
  • 08:19 – Conclusion

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Highlights from the interview

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has been urged to immediately sack his “darling”, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.

That call is being made by Ghaleb Cachalia, the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises.

Citing his reasons, Cachalia says: “Well, if I were to mark him an exam on this, I’d give him a resounding fail, because in all the time he has been there, everything has got worse…in outputs he’s done appallingly. In terms of governance, which is allied to outputs, he’s done worse.

“In the private sector, if that was your responsibility, they would be holding your feet to the fire to say, deliver or go. And as he hasn’t delivered, they would show him the door.”

However, Cachalia is not hopeful that the president will heed his call. “…because he is the darling, if you like, the chief supporter of President Ramaphosa, there seems to be a lot of slack that’s cut for him…He’s been a dutiful and faithful acolyte of the president, and they will cut him slack to let him run with some face-saving until his term ends.

“But his face will be saved while the country’s will be destroyed. That is the tragedy. And unless the president hears that and acts on that, then the president is also culpable.”

Another reason Minister Gordhan “will in all probability be cut slack” is because he’s not going to stand again as an MP.  “His ministry is going to disappear in any event. So maybe they’re saying, ah, you know, just leave it be. This ministry is going anyway, we’ll deal with it later. But you know what? In the interim, the country is suffering.”

Fuming about the “revolving door” of board members, CEOs and CFOs at the country’s collapsing parastatals, Cachalia says: “… the irony is that Minister Gordhan is the minister responsible for appointing these people in the first place. So he searches hard and far to find people and generally people who come from his own milieu, his protégés. He puts them in these particular positions.

“They’re destined to fail because of the policies he’s instituted, because of the various lack of governance or absurd governance that exists there and all sorts of other matters that were in his purview to truncate in terms of, shall we say, red tape and the like.

“They are destined to fail, even if they were competent. And I say even because most of them are not competent. However, they are then destined to fail. Then he points his finger at them and says, they must leave. Then members of the board…get fed up and say, I’m going to leave. And we have this absurd situation where we have a plethora of acting CEOs for lengthy periods of time…in our most crucial SOEs who are not able to deliver and don’t have the mandate to deliver.”

Commenting on the fact that even during the height of State Capture, Transnet was still able to keep the export industry going, Cachalia says:  “Well, that tells you a story without even expanding on it. I mean, just think about it. It’s hollowed out at the height of State Capture, but it’s managing to achieve what it is set out to do in terms of its mandate while it’s being hollowed out. So the financial constraints will come later. But the operational constraints were held in check and were being attended to. Come Minister Gordhan, the finances got worse, and the operational elements have got even worse. Now you have a double whammy and that’s the responsibility of the minister.”


Gordhan has become a national and economic liability – here are 5 reasons why he must be fired

By Ghaleb Cachalia MP – DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises

Given the devastating report card by the Auditor General (A-G) on the financial performance of the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) and the entities that report to it – Minister Pravin Gordhan’s resignation letter should have been on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s desk this morning.

Gordhan has literally collapsed the finances the DPE after the A-G gave the Department a qualified audit outcome with findings. He has extended and mirrored this failure to Sate Owned Enterprises (SOEs) reporting to him, with 5 of the 7 seven that reporting to him still not having finalized their financial statements six months after the close of the financial year.

The only reason Ramaphosa still keeps Gordhan in his Cabinet is for political expediency to insulate himself against the faction-riddled ANC. If Ramaphosa was committed to acting in the national interest, here are 5 reasons why he should act to fire Gordhan with immediate network:

  1. Breaking the backbone of the South African economy – The rapid decline of Transnet under Gordhan has seen the amount of goods transported by the freight rail system, in the last 5 years, plunge from 150 million tons to 226 million tons. Transnet’s collapse is estimated to be costing the country R1 billion a day in economic output, equivalent to 4.9% of annual GDP or R353 billion.
  2. Plunging SOEs into a governance crisis – Since his appointment to the Public Enterprises portfolio in 2018, Gordhan has presided over an unprecedented governance chaos at Executive and Board level in SOEs. 2 SOEs have no CEOs, 3 have acting CEOs and some are either operating under interim boards or have unfilled board vacancies.
  3. Condoning corruption and mafia capture of Eskom – With criminal syndicates and corruption at Eskom partly to blame for loadshedding, Gordhan outright dismissed allegations that criminal cartels active in Eskom’s coal-supply chain have connections with high-ranking politicians.
  4. Selling SAA on the cheap – According to the AG, the SAA transaction was problematic. The due diligence performed on preferred partner Takatso was poor. The AG called for the valuation of SAA’s assets to be redone.
  5. Failure to open the SOE sector to private participation – The slow pace of opening up the SOE sector to private participation has been a drag on the national economy and has negatively impacted South Africa’s economic competitiveness.

Under Gordhan’s watch, South Africa’s has missed out the commodities boom due to Transnet freight rail challenges. This has robbed the national economy of billions of rand in potential income and robbed the fiscus of the much needed export tax receipts. Gordhan has become a national and economic liability and should be fired immediately.

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