In the wake of calls for President Jacob Zuma to resign during post-election coalition talks and attempts to deflect responsibility from him at the ANC national executive committee’s recent meeting, Zuma has made a daring power play – taking charge of South Africa’s state-owned enterprises.
The decision to place Zuma in charge of a new co-ordinating committee of state-owned entities was taken at the post-election Cabinet meeting last weekend.
The presidency insists there is “nothing sinister” in the establishment of the Presidential State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) Co-ordinating Council. Its role, said presidential spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga, is to ensure that state entities work together and do not usurp the responsibilities of line-function ministers.
But the extreme tensions involving key state-owned entities – and, in some cases, the president’s friends – potentially puts the president in direct confrontation with the national treasury.
More specifically, he could lock horns with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who has blocked granting state money to bail out troubled SAA.
The crisis at SAA was further entrenched this week when audit and risk committee nonexecutive board member Yakhe Kwinana resigned.