State-owned enterprises (SOEs), in theory at least, are supposed to be at the centre of the government’s development agenda. From road maintenance to electricity provisioning, they are supposed to be the place where actual service delivery happens. To say that in the recent history they have been anything but would be a gross understatement. As the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture has laid bare, not only did SOEs not support the development agenda in the past decade, they actively sabotaged it through a culture of rampant corruption and mismanagement. Once upon a time, Eskom was regarded as one of the top electricity companies in the world, meeting the energy needs of an industrialising economy at a reasonable price. Now it cannot even keep the lights on and public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan is in a race against time to come out with strategies to ensure its sustainability before it sinks the whole economy.

SAA, though less systematically risky for SA as...

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