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Pravin Gordhan denies government wants to privatise Transnet

Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan says the government needs to attract investment that will ultimately create jobs. File photo.
Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan says the government needs to attract investment that will ultimately create jobs. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander

Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan has denied that the government wants to wholesale privatise the country’s rail.

Speaking during a question-and-answer session in the National Assembly on Wednesday, Gordhan flatly denied that his government was going the privatisation route.

He was responding to questions by EFF MP Omphile Maotwe who accused the ANC government of moving to collapse state-owned enterprises like Transnet to sell them to private owners.

“We want you, minister, today, to [say] whether you are saying that there are no plans to privatise any of the Transnet sections in the medium to long term,” said Maotwe.

She had initially asked Gordhan to give details of the opening of bids by Transnet for private companies to operate sections of its freight rail network.

This comes after an announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa last year, as part of the economic recovery plan, to allow private freight rail operators to operate alongside Transnet.

Gordhan said Transnet was conducting a phased project regarding the sale of lots to enable private access to sections of the rail network.

“In the case of slot sales, the phased project is limited to the sale of operation access privileges in the form of slots with no impact on rail network ownership. Transnet Freight Rail will continue to be the owner and the network manager in addition to being the dominant operator,” said Gordhan.

He said in all cases of private sector participation, Transnet will retain the ownership of its assets.

Gordhan said all that was being experimented with was how the government and the private sector can co-operate.  

“This is a service offering as I said in my initial response,” said Gordhan. He said the government needed to attract investment that would ultimately create jobs.

“I think some of us, honourable chair,  need to look in the mirror and ask the question ‘Am I creating and contributing to stability in this country and creating a climate where I can actually get investment that will create jobs and therefore industrialisation as well?’

“This old, tired rhetoric that we have heard time and again about collapsing [state owned enterprises] and selling them to somebody or the other which requires no response because that is not the intention at all,” said Gordhan.




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