Minister calls for speedy end to Gama saga
Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan on Tuesday called for a rapid resolution to the saga surrounding suspended contender for the post of Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama, and threatened to fill the post regardless if his dispute with the parastatal dragged on.
“If this becomes too protracted I will appoint a CEO in consultation with Cabinet,” Hogan told Parliament’s portfolio committee on public enterprises.
“The process of appointment cannot be prolonged for much longer. We call on all to ensure a rapid conclusion to the events that have so far unfolded.”
In what could be read as a call on Gama to step aside, Hogan also called on everybody involved “to put the interests of Transnet first”.
The minister said in making a choice she would be mindful of the requirements of transformation, but also select somebody who had the necessary “skills and capabilities”.
Gama is challenging his suspension as Transnet Freight Rail boss in court and claims it was an attempt to block his bid to succeed Maria Ramos as group CEO.
He has found political support in high places, with Justice Minister Jeff Radebe calling his suspension “a gross injustice”.
The African National Congress (ANC) has also insisted he remains the ruling party’s “preferred candidate”.
But Hogan made clear that Gama twice failed to make the shortlist compiled by the board, and given to the minister to make an appointment.
The board initially favoured South African Revenue Service boss Pravin Gordhan, but he stepped aside to become finance minister. Hogan lamented the fact that the preferred candidate selected in the second round, BP Africa CEO Sipho Maseko, bowed out last week.
She said it was regrettable the Gama furore had resulted in the names of candidates becoming known, because “confidentiality has been breached”.
“Candidates need confidentiality.”
The committee’s outspoken chairperson, Vytjie Mentor, called on Hogan not to leave the matter in the hands of the Transnet board, but to appoint a CEO as soon as possible, in consultation with Cabinet.
“I ask that you take charge of this process as speedily as possible with Cabinet because that is where it belongs. We want to take this problem and put it firmly in your lap.”
Mentor, who had a public spat with Hogan earlier this year over privatisation, said the minister must then “report to us and prove to us that you took charge and that the process was fair and it was transparent”.
Gama faces disciplinary action for flouting orders and regulations on two contracts worth more than R800-million.—Sapa