Time and hard work will be required to rebuild our once proud SoEs and return efficiency to the many government departments that Madiba set in place at the advent of our new democracy.
Dear Employees of State Owned Entities,
This is both an open letter and a plea to all the good, honest people who work hard and diligently throughout all levels within the many tainted State-Owned Entities (SoE) and State Departments in South Africa. We know it is not easy and discouraging to work for an organisation or department who’s results or leadership conduct makes headline news, month after month, for all the wrong reasons.
Work – if one is lucky to have a job – is a place where we spend most of our waking time. It’s a place where motivation and pride is essential for productivity, quality of output and growth. Most people are honest, hard-working and want to do their best. They yearn to learn, to develop and rise through the ranks. But given the choice, people generally do not enjoy working for brands and organisations that are steeped in a dismal or declining reputation.
Brands on their own do not degrade or become trashed on their own. Their demise, if not due to an act of God, is generally due to poor leadership decisions or conduct. In the case of many our nation’s SoEs and state departments such as Eskom, Sanral, Transnet, Prasa, SABC, SAA, Sassa, SARS and others, these were once proud and efficient institutions filled with talented people who were focused on producing quality service and at low cost to the public.
The truth is, they are still largely filled with talented people who mean well, but whose pride has lost its sheen. Many skilled experts have moved on, some forced to do so because they insisted on good governance, while others just couldn’t bare to work in an environment of waste and degradation, directed by the upper echelons of power.
It is not the fault of the thousands of good employees that these once fine institutions have become steeped in debt and lacking in good governance. All the good engineers, accountants, auditors, administrators and skilful artisans in the world couldn’t circumvent the maladministration and corruption perpetuated by a few carefully placed people in leadership with a plan to siphon the balance sheets.
While this is not the case of all leaders within these failed or failing SoEs, the ones who are responsible know very well who they are. As do many who report to them. These are the leaders who had other plans and ulterior motives for the revaluation of assets and re-organising the books. The ones responsible for the massive borrowings for intensive capital expenditure, without placing sufficient attention on the auditing and cost controls. They cared little for the dubious awarding of lucrative contracts and tenders, the cost over-runs, the scope creep and the high interest bonds awarded. They paid scant attention to rising costs and reduced productivity. The result; many SoEs and state departments have debt and costs that are too high to sustain. Many are virtually bankrupt or requiring massive Treasury or public pension scheme bailouts.
To the good people who work within these very necessary organisations, this state of affairs is not your fault. We can only hope and ask that you remain resilient and hang in there. That you do all you can to hinder the pressure of those who threaten and bully you into submission. We urge you to make copies and secure the proof and records of the wrongdoing and corrupt activities. These will come in handy when the tide turns. Continue to place barriers in the way of those who believe they are invincible or protected. But do so without jeopardising your safety and security.
South Africa is not far off from its next realignment that will realise the collapse of the current corrupt leadership, one that has robbed our nation and its people of its rightful levels of prosperity, employment and economic growth. The signs of change are rapidly appearing. These come in the form of people at the highest echelons of power seeking residency and purchasing property in far-off countries. It also comes with massive exposure of gross misconduct by those we are supposed to rely on and trust. The tide has turned, the current is stronger and the water is deep.
The hard work of civil society, the free independent media and opposition politics is beginning to pay off. So is the hard work of all the good people who work within these crucial SoEs.
The journey of righting the wrongs of our recent tsunami of corruption will be as tough as it will be rewarding. The truth will get to those who have abused their positions of powers, but it will not happen overnight. Some might run, but they can’t hide. Time and hard work will be required to rebuild our once proud SoEs and return efficiency to the many government departments that Madiba set in place at the advent of our new democracy. But to do so will require every good person within these departments to remain on board. You know who you are. DM
Wayne is an entrepreneur, businessman and activist harboured in one soul. He is the Chairman of OUTA and has served as a Board member of the Tourism Business Council of SA. His recent activities include Chief Executive at Avis and President of SA Vehicle Renting and Leasing Association. Family, travel, a dram of Scotland's finest and some erratic golf makes him smile.