Former public enterprises minister tells the Zondo commission of inquiry that ex-president Jacob Zuma instructed her withhold certain SOE matters
Former president Jacob Zuma instructed her to withhold certain matters relating to state-owned enterprises from cabinet, Barbara Hogan said on Monday.
Hogan, who served as public enterprises minister between 2009 and 2010, said the former president “stopped things from going to cabinet”.
“My experience was that the president stopped things from going to cabinet and instructed me to withdraw things. The president would phone me and say, ‘I hear this, can we talk about this’,” Hogan told the State Capture inquiry.
She took the stand before deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo on Monday morning.
Hogan said she believed the president had no authority to hand down instructions on who to appoint as CEO or who to appoint on the board of a state-owned enterprise. She said she based this on two legal opinions that were obtained when she joined the ministry.
“In many of these SOEs, the memorandums of association prescribed that the minister appoint the CEO. If there is no trust or no endorsement of that CEO by the board, it’s a very difficult relationship…
“It is very important that the minister does not interfere with the work of the CEO. Corporate governance is very important in this phase … The board owes the company a fiduciary responsibility,” she said.
“The minister would authorise the board to do a search along commonly agreed parameters, so the minister would never appoint a CEO out of the blue and allow the board to go ahead. You can’t have a CEO who the board doesn’t even know … When one becomes a minister, you are allocated an executive authority. I was given the executive authority to appoint members to the board.”
Asked by evidence leader advocate Phillip Mokoena about whether she thought the president could instruct the minister on board appointments or CEO appointments at SOEs, Hogan replied: “No.”
“If any cabinet minister or the president tried to instruct me, they would be usurping my executive authority. In the founding legislation, there is no envisaged role for the president.
“The president chairs cabinet and I would imagine that if the president has concerns about a particular candidate, it would be at a cabinet meeting that the president would raise those concerns,” she said.
Hogan’s testimony is continuing.