Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has announced permanent boards for various parastatals, which included the confirmation of the appointment of former North West premier Popo Molefe as chairperson of the Transnet board and Phakamani Hadebe as chairperson of the Eskom board.
Gordhan acknowledged that there would be a lot of work for the new boards he has announced today - to turn around the culture of “malfeasance” that was associated with the state owned enterprises during the period of state capture.
He believed the new boards were made up of credible people, but he said the boards must also further investigate members of the executive teams at the parastatals for any wrongdoing, with a view to have these people prosecuted if necessary.
Asked specifically if the new Transnet board would be investigating the chief executive officer Siyabonga Gama, Gordhan said the boards were free to investigate all members of the management of their parastatals.
He said the boards he has announced should look at “cleaning up the past” transgressions. He mentioned that if there were any people who were viewed as being “toxic”, they should be ultimately driven out of the institution. He did not refer at any point to Gama in particular – preferring to generically deal with the question.
Gama became acting chief executive officer at Transnet in early 2015, nearly six years after he had contended for it - but was fired.
He successfully challenged his dismissal. Gama was then appointed acting CEO of Transnet, to replace Brian Molefe who was seconded to Eskom. Gama had been with Transnet since 1994 and was chief executive of Transnet Freight Rail from 2005. He was confirmed as chief executive in 2016 by former Minister Lynne Brown.
He was dismissed in 2010 after a disciplinary inquiry found him guilty on three counts of misconduct, including fraudulently awarding a contract for security services to a company associated with General Siphiwe Nyanda, a former communications minister appointed during the Jacob Zuma presidency in its early years.
He was found guilty of going against board instructions in awarding a R800 million contract to an empowerment group without including the Transnet engineering arm. He was reinstated as head of freight rail in 2011.
Gordhan – who was appointed earlier this year by President Cyril Ramaphosa – confirmed that Monhla Hlahla, the former head of the Airports Company, would be confirmed as chairperson of the Denel board. He noted that two generals drawn from the SANDF, General Nyanda and retired lieutenant general Temba Matanzima would serve on the 14 member board.
Mmakeaya Ramano is chairperson of the SA Express Airways board. Ahmed Bassa, a member of the South African Airways board, will also serve on the SA Express board to ensure “synergies between the state airlines”, reported Gordhan.