The new Minister of Public Enterprise, Pravin Gordhan, today accepted the request of the United National Transport Union (UNTU) to meet with him to discuss Transnet, but told Steve Harris, General Secretary of UNTU, not only to come with problems, but to also make bold suggestions of possible solutions.
Gordhan is the first of four Public Enterprise Ministers to accept the invite of UNTU, who represents 53% of employees working for Transnet.
“Just give me a little bit of time to get on top of things before we meet, but take the time to consider what we can do together to contribute to solving the challenges we face,” Gordhan told Harris at Fedusa’s Leadership and Collective Bargaining Conference held at Roodevallei Faircity Hotel in Pretoria.
Gordhan says South Africa is faced with the challenge of convincing international investors that they can invest in the infrastructure of our state-owned enterprises (SOE’s) and that they will assist in growing our economy.
“There is huge damage due to the mismanagement of our SOE’s over the past few years that we will not be able to overcome overnight. Some of the SOE’s need to rediscover their core mandate. The world is aware of what has been going on in South Africa and is watching to see if we are up to the challenge.
“Over the past few years good people have been removed and replaced with not so good people. Hence, there is a need to appoint new boards within the next two to three months that consists of people with integrity, the right skills and experience to steer. Boards must not be involved in procurement issues. That is the job of the officials who are responsible, transparent and accountable,” says Gordhan.
According to the Minister most employees in SOE’s are good and honest citizens who do the right thing. “Unfortunately, you only need five employees out of 1 000 employees to steer things in the wrong direction. We have seen how honesty in management and technical expertise has been forced out of SOE’s. We now need to attract the best of the best back to our SOE’s,” he says.
Gordhan believes that some of the SOE’s can be revitalised with the right business models to ensure that they are managed in a cost-effective manner. “There will be no more special favours for special clients, but the right service at the right price,” says the Minister.
According to the Minister all SOE’s must contribute to the South African fiscus and bring the countries debt levels under control.
Harris says UNTU welcomes the Minister’s approach and will support him in his efforts to steer Transnet out of the junk status, the rating agency Standard & Poor awarded the company, in November last year.
Harris told Gordhan that UNTU is of the belief that closer co-operation is needed between Transnet and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to the benefit of all South Africans.
UNTU is still waiting for a response from Transport Minister, Blade Nzimande, who is responsible for Prasa, after the Union also requested to meet with him.
Issued on behalf of UNTU by Sonja Carstens, Media and Liaison Officer. For UNTU Press Statements contact 082 463 6806 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org