Public Enterprises Minister under fire – in and out of Parliament


Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown responsible for, among others, Denel, is under fire both inside and outside Parliament for her handling of state-owned enterprises.

In the National Assembly, the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) wants her fired because she allegedly misled a Parliamentary committee. Outside, at Denel corporate headquarters in Centurion, members of the Solidarity trade union, today (Friday) protested against Brown’s apparent non-action as regards charges of financial mismanagement.

A weekly financial publication added to the Ministerial woes when it reported Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba as saying there would be no more financial bail-outs for state-owned enterprises. They would have to clean up their acts, he said in reference to Denel, as well as Eskom and SAA.

The Financial Mail has it that “the board and management of arms manufacturer Denel would be “first in the whipping line”.

Natasha Mazzone, Democratic Alliance shadow public enterprises minister, said Minister Brown was found guilty of misleading Parliament by the Public Protector. This follows a complaint laid by the DA as regards “contracts or engagement between Eskom and Gupta-linked Trillian”.

The Public Protector’s report has given President Cyril Ramaphosa 14 days to take action against his Public Enterprises Minister who “violated the Executive Ethics Code”.
“The President must act swiftly and immediately fire her from his Cabinet,” Mazzone said, adding Brown “has acted for far too long with utter impunity”.
“It was under her watch that Eskom and other parastatals were virtually financially and ethically ruined. Her time has finally come to face the music.”

The Solidarity protest in Centurion is because Brown’s response to a letter complaining about serious financial mismanagement and requesting suspension of senior personnel including the chief executive and chief financial officer was that “discussions continue”.

Deon Reyneke, Solidarity deputy general secretary, said if no action was taken up to 700 people could be retrenched at Denel as part of restructuring due to be discussed at a Denel executive committee meeting this week.
“Solidarity urges the minister to amend her vague solutions and use the authority of her office to address the problems,” Reyneke said.

In response to the Public Protector’s report, Brown said in a statement: “When I became aware that senior Eskom officials deliberately misled me, I immediately informed Parliament’s Ethics Committee and the Public Protector of the false information”.