South Africa: As Long As SOE Board Chairs Are Political Appointees, They Will Battle to Survive


It's time for the government to completely remove any suggestion of political patronage when it comes to the appointment of chairpersons and leaders of SOEs.

In a recent edition of, "From the desk of the President", dated 20 January 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa vows to end the "practice of poorly qualified individuals being parachuted into positions of authority through political patronage, which is why a major focus of our work this year is to restore the SOEs [state-owned enterprises] to health. We will do this by appointing experienced and qualified boards and managers."

These are encouraging words, indeed.

The president puts his finger on the most critical aspect of why the SOEs are battling and then why they fail to deliver on their mandates.

There is much finger-pointing to "poor leadership", to the lack of skill in executive management. And mostly it is justified. But the blame should lie very much at the feet of the board and then most notably in the place where the buck finally stops - the chairperson.

The chairperson is the cog around which all leadership in the business revolves.

So, if the SOEs are not performing and are in drastic need of the president's...

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