Alexkor in deep waters
September 20, 2019
Parliament, South Africa: The Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises said Alexkor is in trouble, as the company’s situation is damning. The committee was briefed by the Department of Public Enterprises and Alexkor on Tuesday on progress made in addressing Alexkor’s governance challenges and financial performance.
In its questions, the committee expressed concern about the state in which the company finds itself. It is under administration and the committee said it cannot be business-as-usual.
Members of the committee said it notes the challenges at Alexkor; hence the call for Alexkor to appear before the committee today so that the committee can provide necessary oversight.
Briefing the committee, the department said in December 2018, Alexkor RMS PSJV informed the department that the company was unable to pay salaries for the month and 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 practises by Alexkor RMC PSJV and board management.
The committee did not accept an eight-page document presented by Alexkor. In its next meeting with the committee, Alexkor must submit a detailed document, rather than a bullet-point presentation. The committee highlighted that it has asked the same questions of Alexkor before. Thus, Alexkor should have presented a report addressing these questions.
As part of committee’s oversight, members suggested an interaction with Alexkor’s stakeholders, including labour and the Richtersveld community, as the problems are complex. This will enable the committee to make meaningful contributions.
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. The committee committed itself to monitor the implementation of the strategy closely, in order to make it effective and improve the airline towards recovery.
The committee also noted with concern how successive SAA boards have not achieved the desired outcomes, despite the board members’ expertise.
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.