Parliament’s portfolio committee on public enterprises today cut short a briefing by Transnet on its corruption investigations because of the presence of freight rail company CEO Siyabonga Gama.
The Transnet board last week served Gama, chief procurement officer Thamsanqa Jiyane and supply chain manager Lindiwe Mdletshe with notices of intention to suspend them.
Committee chairperson Lungi Mnganga-Gcabashe called for a five-minute break to deliberate after members of the African National Congress and the Democratic Alliance (DA) objected, saying that they were uncomfortable at being briefed by executives who were themselves implicated in allegations under investigation at Transnet.
They raised their objections as Transnet chief audit executive Mmabatho Sukati began making a presentation at the request of Gama.
DA public enterprises spokesperson Natasha Mazzone said she found it strange to be briefed in this manner on matters that prompted her to lay criminal charges against Gama and would prefer it if Transnet chairperson Popo Molefe, who led the delegation to the committee, conducted the briefing.
In the end, the briefing was limited to the long-running matter of the class action suit by 40 000 pensioners against the Transnet Pension Fund.
Today’s briefing was meant to update members of Parliament (MPs) on the progress in probing allegations ranging from nepotism to the falsification of BBEE certificates to the state capture scandal surrounding contracts with companies linked to the Gupta family.
According to a briefing document, 14 cases of wrongdoing at Transnet were handed to the police and three of these had proceeded to court.
An entry on a case involving “media allegations on Transnet” and more than R1 billion, an apparent reference to dealings with companies with Gupta-links, stated that the matter was “in progress”.
Gama had until the end of business on Monday to give reasons why he should not be suspended, but has yet to do so.
The board said he was given notice of his planned suspension following investigations by Werksmans Attorneys, Mncedisi Ndlovu & Sedumedi Attorneys and Fundudzi Forensic Investigators.
It said that given the seriousness of the alleged transgressions as well as their seniority, there were fears that Gama and his two colleagues could interfere with the investigation.
One of the accusations that Gama will have to reply to is that he received help from global consultancy McKinsey to prepare part of his thesis to obtain his MBA.
– African News Agency (ANA)