Alexkor is in trouble, as the company’s situation is damning and worrying, these were the sentiments expressed by the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises. The committee was briefed by the Department of Public Enterprises and Alexkor on Wednesday on progress made in addressing Alexkor’s governance challenges and financial performance.

Briefing the committee, the department’s Acting Director-General, Mr Kgathatso Tlhakudo, said in December 2018, Alexkor RMS PSJV informed the department that the company was unable to pay salaries for the month, and an urgent financial assistance of approximately R5 million was requested.

The department informed the committee that during early 2017 and 2018, the department received numerous complaints from mining contractors. They alleged that they had been unfairly excluded from the 2018 marine mining contracting cycle. They also alleged victimisation and irregular practices by Alexkor RMC PSJV.

A committee member, Ms Judith Tshabalala, said it is concerning given the state in which the company finds itself. As part of the committee strengthening its oversight, Ms Tshabalala suggested an interaction with Alexkor’s stakeholders, including labour and the Richtersveld community, as the problems are complex. She said this engagement will enable the committee to make meaningful contributions.

Alexkor is currently under administration, the administrator will assume the duties and responsibilities in place of the board of directors, and is required to prioritise and expedite problems within the entity.

The committee criticised Alexkor for presenting an eight-page document with bullet points. Some committee members expressed their dissatisfaction and said it cannot be acceptable. Ms Natasha Mazzone, a committee member, said: “You cannot present eight pages to the committee, it is unacceptable considering the state of the company.”

The committee resolved that in its next meeting, Alexkor must submit a detailed document, rather than a bullet point presentation.

Meanwhile, South African Airways (SAA) also briefed the committee on progress made in addressing governance challenges and advancing its developmental objectives.

The committee welcomed the long-term turnaround strategy presented by SAA. To be effective in its oversight, committee Chairperson Mr Khaya Magaxa said the committee will monitor the implementation of the strategy closely, in order to make it effective and improve the airline towards recovery.

On the issue of fraud and corruption, the committee would like a joint meeting with the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services to consider capacity constraints within law enforcement agencies when investigating state-owned companies.

By Yoliswa Landu
19 September 2019