Recent events at state enterprise Eskom show the extent to which public resources are being abused‚ former president Kgalema Motlanthe said on Thursday.
Motlanthe was speaking at the launch of social justice organisation Oxfam South Africa on Thursday in Johannesburg‚ coinciding with Africa Day celebrations.
“Eskom is the biggest industrial company on the continent. Transnet is the second biggest industrial company on the continent. They are owned by the public‚ but if you refer to recent shenanigans at Eskom‚ you will see a resource that is not being used for the benefit of the people‚” Motlanthe said.
“There are people there who expect to be praised for keeping the lights on when that is their only responsibility.”
Motlanthe’s jab at the power utility comes about a week after embattled Eskom CEO Brian Molefe was reinstated‚ amid confusion over the circumstances under which he left.
The former president said that state enterprises like Eskom should pour its resources into programmes to employ and train young South Africans‚ in order to advance the interests of the poor.
He reminded state enterprises that ultimately they are accountable to the public.
“The election and appointment of board members and senior staff is something the public should have a hand in‚” Motlanthe said.
Motlanthe reflected on South Africa’s democratic journey and the country’s on-going political crisis‚ marked by “the absence of ethical‚ moral and just leaders”.
“They have taken up office and fallen into incumbency‚ forgetting they are accountable to the people who put them there. This must be spoken about frankly. We find ourselves in a time where open and robust national discourse is in deficit‚” he said.
“South Africans find themselves laying their heads to rest at night and wondering what changes they will face then they wake in the morning.”
The democratic state established in 1994 has not yet been consolidated and remains fraught with social inequality and the advancement of individual interests‚ he said.
He added that when state resources are abused for personal gain‚ the effects are most acutely felt by the most downtrodden in the country.
Motlanthe congratulated Oxfam’s work in promoting inclusive growth and human-centred economies.