The Denel board yesterday hit back at Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan following reports that the minister termed Denel “arrogant and belligerent”. Denel is at loggerheads with National Treasury over a joint venture with a company linked to the Gupta family.
Denel and VR Laser formed Denel Asia in January, and has since earned a stinging rebuke from Treasury for failing to secure executive approval in terms of the Public Finance Management Act.
On Wednesday Gordhan, in his response to the debate on his ministry’s budget vote, said: “One of the tendencies that we are noting in recent times is that when boards are beginning to do things that they are not supposed to do, they begin to display a level of arrogance and belligerence that does not befit them and … the board of Denel need to take that message to heart.”
In a strongly worded statement yesterday, the Denel board said it wishes to “categorically deny that the Denel board or its executives are arrogant and belligerent”. It said Gorhan’s accusations are unsubstantiated, baseless and unfounded.
“Denel executives have in recent weeks met with National Treasury officials twice, addressing the misunderstanding relating to the establishment of Denel Asia. During the two meetings, among other things it was agreed that neither National Treasury nor Denel would unilaterally make public statements on these matters until such time discussions are concluded.”
The board added they view it as a clear violation of the undertakings given by National Treasury and also a flagrant violation of chapter 3 of the constitution. “The Denel board will continue to observe the highest standards of governance,” the statement read.