Business Maverick


Ramaphosa admits to ‘massive system failure’ in the appointment of SOE boards

President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives to testify on behalf of the governing ANC at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry in Johannesburg on 28 April 2021. (Photo: EPA-EFE / THEMBA HADEBE / POOL)

Appearing before the Zondo Commission, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the appointments of people such as Brian Molefe, Matshela Koko, Arthur Fraser and Dudu Myeni bypassed the ANC’s deployment committee.

The parlous condition of state-owned enterprises was the result of a massive system failure in how the boards of SOEs were appointed, President Cyril Ramaphosa has admitted at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.

Ramaphosa completed his first day of testimony before the commission on Wednesday 28 April and will continue for a second day on Thursday. Judge Raymond Zondo asked the head of state what criteria were followed in appointing boards and “how come they (SOEs) are in this state now?”

“Some of the (failure) may have been inadvertent, and some may have been purposeful,” said Ramaphosa. 

“Some of (the appointments) were hidden and masked.” 

He told the commission that SOEs in South Africa were about to experience a new dawn. However, there is no evidence of that yet. At Eskom, load shedding was worse than ever in 2020; Prasa passenger trains are mostly not running; Denel is unable to pay salaries and Transnet requires years of capital injections to get back on track.

However, Ramaphosa said he would establish a state-owned enterprise council to improve governance, including appointments. He also revealed that the appointments of many of the key players in State Capture, like Brian Molefe (as Eskom and Transnet CEO), Matshela Koko (as acting Eskom CEO), Dudu Myeni (as SAA chairperson) and Arthur Fraser (as head of the State Security Agency), had not been endorsed by the party’s deployment committee which he chaired as deputy president. The implication is that former president Jacob Zuma went rogue and made appointments outside party and government systems.

“They (the appointments) were done in a particular era and in a particular way. We must move away from that (practice),” said Ramaphosa. He said that the deployment committee (now chaired by deputy president David Mabuza) had upbraided him for not passing certain top job candidates through it.

Under cross-examination by evidence leader Paul Pretorius, Ramaphosa said that patronage was a factor in some government appointments. 

“We acknowledge that ill-qualified persons were put into positions. That testifies to patronage behind it, and it fuels factionalism,” he said. He repeatedly said that any candidates appointed to government and SOE jobs needed to be “fit for purpose”. 

State capture took place under our watch, President Ramaphosa admits to State Capture Inquiry

Asked about how the facilities management company Bosasa had funded an election centre for the ANC, even though its business model depended on government contracts, he said, “It was one of those anomalous events that did happen. The ANC should have been aware of the Bosasa issues,” said Ramaphosa, adding that the new Political Party Funding Act should ensure this would not happen again. 

Earlier, Ramaphosa defended the party’s deployment policy and was non-committal when asked if it was time to call it a day on cadre development and deployment. 

“We are still seeking to build a diverse nation in terms of culture and gender. Transformation is a process over time. It needs a strategic intent.”  

Ramaphosa said that when it came to making key appointments, all governments asked, “Is that person one of us.”     

Earlier Ramaphosa said the ANC had been caught in State Capture, although he said most party leaders and members abhorred corruption.

The president’s testimony continues on Thursday and over two days at the end of May. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • J LOMBARD says:

    “Ramaphosa defended the party’s deployment policy”. Business as usual.

  • Thinker and Doer says:

    This is what results from “deployment policy”, which must be legislatively prohibited in relation to appointments to the public service and public enterprises.

    • Phil Evans says:

      Put them on salaries commensurate with their qualifications. That should sort out Cyril’s dilemma over what to do with 3000+ under-qualified management level civil servants.

  • Gerhard Pretorius says:

    ‘All governments’ doing cadre deployment is a misrepresentation. All governments constitute the BRICS partners, which are all renowned for its corruption. Furthermore, what did the deployment committee do when Zupta overruled them? Nothing. So they condoned his appointments and thus state capture.

  • Nick Griffon says:

    I really hope Paul Pretorius is going to push more for detailed answers rather than this generic BS that happened today. We want to know what CR did when Nene was fired and ask him for proof. What did CR do with all the evidence of corruption that we all knew of. Take off the kid gloves please!!!

  • Charles Parr says:

    Does this man understand the difference between truth and fiction? I don’t believe so. I wish these highly paid advocates would earn their keep instead of behaving like they’ve got to toe the line and be polite.

    • Bee Man says:

      Absolutely. Hard questions must be asked and pressed home – where the wrong answer is a blatant lie, and the right answer is a clear acknowledgment of being fully knowledgeable or compliant on the corruption. These lawyers and advocates need to do what they get paid for… and it’s a lot!

  • Ian Gwilt says:

    So lets burn Cyril, and then what.
    I am no ANC supporter, but realistically they are not going to lose power and if they do , to who JuJu ?
    maybe better to have a repentant , reforming bunch than chaos

    • shannon Maxwell says:

      I am with Ian on this one. CR has been a huge disappointment but he was never going to throw his comrades under the bus and if we all think this situation is dire, I cannot imagine how dire it would be in Malema’s hands. And the DA is just never going to get a crack at ruling.

      • Charles Parr says:

        I think that we all agree that the alternatives to Cyril Ramaphosa are too awful to contemplate but the problem with all this corruption and incompetence is that it robs the ordinary people (ANC voters) of the liberation dividend that they were promised.
        It has very little impact on me.

      • Nick Griffon says:

        Listening to CR defending cadre deployment and seeing how ANC quashed a motion to investigate the shareholding in the powership debacle with Bongo and Mahlobo today, one has to wonder if anything will ever change. They shamefully abuse their majority to defend criminals. Party before the SA.

  • William Stucke says:

    > all governments asked, “Is that person one of us.”

    Actually, no. MOST governments ask “Is the person competent for the role?”

    • Sydney Kaye says:

      Well not the Johnson and not the Trump ones. Have you an example of a government that does. But definitely the ANC must come bottom of the list

  • John Hughes says:

    The ANC NEC should be forced to live in Khayelitsha or even worse – a shack development for a year; attend public health clinics and hospitals, send kids to non-fee paying schools. They can still get to their day job. I wonder if then policies would change? They just copied Apartheid rules. So sad…

  • Jon Quirk says:

    To get a handle on the real cost of this “systemic failure” it is only necessary to examine one SOE, Eskom. The real cost of this “systemic failure” is truly frightening.When did Eskom cease paying a dividend to Government, because that certainly was the case up to around the year 2000.

    Imagine that – Eskom used to be a World class utility and actually generate revenue to the fiscus!

    Since those halcyon times the hole has just got deeper and deeper until now it costs vast swathes of “propping up money” despite electricity prices to consumers increasing by mind-blowing percentage tariff increases year on year.

    The cost to the country of cadre deployment and gross incompetence is well past the trillion mark, if you add on to the present loss, the hand-outs given, the excess charging that has been necessary and the dividends that used to be earned but now foregone.

    The total cost of cadre deployment is simply mind-blowing – and this is only one of the many SOE and all have the same trajectory.

    And we, even after we have totted up the real cost of cadre deployment and incompetence in all the SOE, have not even taken account of the cost of cadre deployment and the employment of people simply not up to the task throughout the three tiers of government.

    We can be thankful that we have seen the end of probably the greatest destructor of national wealth ever in a peace-time situation – that goes by the name Zuma – but are yet to be convinced that President Ramaphosa has the capacity, ability, intention – and the whole-hearted and committed support of the ANC will be a sine qua non – to turn round this runaway train-smash.

    • Gerrie Pretorius Pretorius says:

      A good summary of what anc incompetence has and will keep on costing this country. The sad thing is that it will never be acknowledged by any member of the rulers. Convoluted BS excuses is all we can expect.

  • John Hughes says:

    Thanks for your reporting Ferial! Much better than watching or listening to these totally expected long diatribes! You must drink something strong.

  • Laurence Erasmus says:

    The ANC’s cadre deployment has only delivered corruption, failed SOEs and enabled systemic patronage and factional networks to be deeply ingrained into our social fabric. The program has cost the country trillions and Cyril insists that cadre deployment still has a role. Outrageous!

  • Alley Cat says:

    “However, Ramaphosa said he would establish a state-owned enterprise council to improve governance, including appointments.”
    Seriously??? Another one?? At what cost and no doubt ZERO results… Kick the can down the road?? AGAIN!!

  • Ian McGill says:

    The results of the deployment strategy has been to unemploy millions of South Africans. The list of failed S.O.E’s is a testament to cadre deployment.

  • Frans Lichtenstein says:

    Cadre deployment was de facto an instrument of state capture. Political parties can and should train members for elected posts. They should have no say in appointments to permanent civil posts for which transparent, formal appointment procedures must exist. ANC insists on having dual structures.

  • Colleen Dardagan says:

    I started to listen to the President’s testimony and then I just couldn’t. I just couldn’t listen to all that subterfuge any longer. While Ace and his comrades remain at large there is nothing to say about anything.

  • Tim Price says:

    The ANC = State Capture, that’s thread through all of this. It was their aim all along only they really did get greedy and started breaking the piggy bank along the way. Sickening indictment of a kleptocratic, incompetent state

  • Nick Poree Poree says:

    The Zondo Commission and the recently announced SIP and Vulindlela processes are just reassurances to faithful cadres that the road is open, the trough will be filled up again, and the Gravy Train will still get the funding to “do things together” ; keep on voting for us………

  • James Stephen Stephen says:

    I agree with all the above but do the many poorly educated voters get the seriousness of the situation? Mainly they do not, because if they did the ANC would not be in government. It is also very likely that many voters would not like to see an end to skewed deployment where race trumps expertise. It results in easy financial gains for too many ANC supporting families to consider scrapping the status quo. We have Thabo Mbeki to thank for the shift to jobs awarded on racial demographics rather than competence.

  • SAM VAN WYK says:


  • Sandra Goldberg says:

    Did we hear mention of yet another one of those do nothing councils- talk , talk and no decision, no action! We are all so heartily sick of the dodging, the subterfuge- ARREST the criminals!

  • Memphis Belle says:

    He’s lying he and the rest of the top six and the nec knew exactly what was going on and did nothing about it. The ANC is not fit to govern our country and must go lock, stock and barrel.

  • Anthony Burman says:

    I am worried that the President’s subtlety and deference might relate more than he would like to the patronage and factionalism in the party to which he refers. I hope I’m wrong…

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