Johannesburg - The Public Enterprises Ministry has blamed
the media for the government's failure to consult leaders of state-owned
enterprises before dismissing them, a spokesperson said on Tuesday.
letter to Business Day, public enterprises spokesperson Makhosini Nkosi blamed the publication for leaking a cabinet decision
to dismiss the chairpersons of Transnet, Eskom and Denel, and therefore forcing
Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba to make the announcement
"The truth is that Mr Gigaba's programme for the
announcement of the affected board changes was thrown off course by the
publication by Business Day of the leaked cabinet decision on Thursday," Nkosi wrote.
"Prior to the leak, the ministry's plan was for it to
first and foremost obtain the cabinet's ratification of the envisaged board
Once this was obtained, Gigaba would have started "a process of
engaging with the affected non-executive directors in order to apprise them of
the government's decision".
The minister also planned to meet other affected parties,
including unions, to explain his decision to overhaul leadership at the major
state utilities, Nkosi said.
Cosatu and the National Union of Mineworkers last week called on
Gigaba to suspend the appointments and consult the unions.
The government announced last Thursday that the entire Eskom
board, barring two members, would be replaced and that Zola Tsotsi would
succeed Mpho Makwana as Eskom chairperson from next month.
At Denel, the whole board -apart from two members - was about
to be replaced. Nhlanhla (Zoli) Kunene was appointed as Denel's new board
chairperson for three years.
Transnet was expected to be next in line for changes at the
In another letter to Business Day on Tuesday, outgoing
Denel chairperson Sibusiso Sibisi pointed out he had asked to step down from his
post in 2008.
However, then minister Alec Erwin was approaching the end of
his term and asked him to stay.
"Shortly thereafter, there was rapid ministerial
succession (Erwin, Brigitte Mabandla, Barbara Hogan). I again expressed a
desire to step down. On the very day of the 2010 annual general meeting (AGM),
Ms Hogan indicated that the succession process had hit a snag and appealed (to
me) that I stay on for a further year until the 2011 AGM," Sibisi wrote.
"Clearly the fatal lapse of judgement was to agree to
Ms Hogan's request."
He said he had learnt from the media he was part of a
"far-reaching ministerial purge".
Sibisi said he had not been contacted by public enterprises,
but had seen a media release referring to the need for Denel's "immediate
business turnaround and strategic redirection".
However, he pointed out: "Given that Denel's turnaround
strategy of 2005, whose main pillar was international equity partnerships to
enter global markets, is effectively on hold with no coherent alternative
save the suggestion for Denel to 'include civilian products in its product
offering', the apparent tough talk amounts to little more than weasel
Sibisi said the shareholder - public enterprises - needed to
decide on Denel's primary objective, which was unclear at the moment.
"In the meantime, it is disingenuous to blame losses on
Sibisi, who is also CEO of the Council for Scientific and
Industrial Research, said this institution was an example of a well-run
"In that capacity as my day job, it has been nothing
short of pleasurable to report to three supportive ministers of science and
technology. No lack of shareholder vision here. Maybe our leadership should
talk a great deal more."