🔒 Alec Hogg: What will Transnet look like in five years?

Spent a productive afternoon yesterday highlighted by Transnet CEO Portia Derby‘s rapid fire presentation at the Joburg Mining Indaba.

Witnessing the impressive Ms Derby (above) felt like I’d been transported back to the early years of the young democracy – to the pre-Zuma era when high quality bureaucrats were much in evidence among the upper echelons of SA’s public sector.

Derby, 49, was among those early servants who came across as principled, selfless individuals with their commitment to the young democracy was forged during the Struggle Era. They shared a naive honesty, truly believing everything and anything was possible.

Despite daunting obstacles, Ms Derby retains that optimism. For the first third of her presentation she exposed the problems Transnet faces. From huge debt and declining market share to the cancer of massive cable theft, the conclusion is obvious: her job must be one of the toughest in SA.

But it is precisely because of this chaos that Transnet’s turnaround plan actually has she a chance of succeeding.

Having thrown far too much good taxpayer money after bad, Transnet is out of options. The socialists have run out of money. So they have been forced to face reality and, as a result, embrace the reality private sector. To use another Maggie Thatcherism – they’ve reached the stage called TINA – There Is No Alternative.

The good news is that it’s not too late. Ms Derby explained that Transnet was overwhelmed with official indications of interest for various Public Private Partnership options in the market. Including, most significantly, the R100 billion expansion of Durban harbour.

I asked her how different Transnet will look five years hence.

Streamlined, she responded, with its focus on moving bulk commodities through a de-electrified network. Plus there will be efficiency dividends through a host of partnerships with local and international businesses. And with SA’s ports that are far away from their current wooden spoon positions in global rankings.

From her lips to God’s ears, some are sure to say. It’s easy to be cynical. South Africa has never been short on strategy. Its problem has always been in poor or non-existent execution.

This time, however, it may just be different.

The State’s partnerships with profit-driven entities can and do work. Mostly because they introduce the critical discipline that’s structurally absent from State Owned Enterprises.

The train is starting to roll. I’m pulling for Portia. For SA’s sake, so should you.

More for you to read today (click on linked headline to access) –

Microsoft released Windows 11. But should you upgrade? The newest Windows operating system got a nice makeover, but we’re still waiting for Android-app compatibility and other game-changing features.

China’s property Fantasia turns nightmarish. Property developer Fantasia’s missed payment is the sector’s latest red flag.

The Woke Left’s primitive economics. Zero-sum thinking was adaptive in a world of tribal conflict, but isn’t in a modern society.


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