SONA2019: Ramaphosa should be in ‘crisis mode’ over troubled SOEs, says asset manager

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President Cyril Ramaphosa on the occasion of the Presidential Inauguration 2019. Loftus Stadium. Pretoria. 25/05/2019 Photo: Jairus Mmutle/GCIS
Steven Nathan brushes aside calls for patience and arguments that ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, and those who say the president’s hands are tied.

As President Cyril Ramaphosa prepares to deliver the state of the nation address (Sona), the founder of the disruptive asset manager 10X Investments, Steven Nathan, described on Wednesday what he would like to see from the president was a “crisis plan”.

“He should be in crisis mode. The country is in crisis. Things are getting worse, fast. Our finances are getting worse, look at the tax receipts. The liabilities of Eskom are in the hundreds of billions of rand. We need a crisis response,” Nathan said.

“We all hoped for radical action after the election, but it feels like there is still a lot of electioneering and not much action at all yet. I hope Thursday’s speech will begin to remedy that.”

Ramaphosa will on Thursday deliver the Sona following the constitution of the sixth democratic parliament after getting a fresh mandate during the May 8 general election.

The presidency said on Tuesday that Ramaphosa met with members of the Eskom board and would announce further measures to support efforts for the recovery and financial and operational sustainability of the cash-strapped power utility.

In his February Sona, Ramaphosa announced that Eskom would be split into three units to help it reduce costs, boost its balance sheet, and enable it to approach creditors.

Nathan said he wanted to see less rhetoric and more decisive, concrete action. He suggested Ramaphosa started with state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

“Dealing decisively with SOEs, such as South African Airways, would be a good start. It should be easier to address the problems at SOEs as they have commercial motives, unlike governmental departments, and should be run along commercially sensible and measurable benchmarks,” he said.

“If we could get some commercial benchmarks for SAA, for example, and get some tangible actions towards implementing those that would be a very positive step.

“It would signal government’s intent to actually correct things, to address these issues, rather than more political rhetoric that doesn’t translate into actions and doesn’t translate into results and a better country for all South Africans.”

Nathan brushed aside calls for patience and arguments that “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, and those who said that Ramaphosa’s hands were tied, and that he was being held back by others around him.

He said the time had come for Ramaphosa to stamp his authority on the government and focus on kick-starting the inclusive growth that South Africa so desperately needed.

“The role of a leader is to surround himself with the right people for the right reasons, not the wrong people for the wrong reasons,” Nathan said.

– African News Agency