Gama’s Transnet reappointment angers Cosatu

The reappointment of axed Transnet Freight Rail CEO Siyabonga Gama to the executive committee of Transnet is in conflict with the government’s commitment to root out incompetence in the public service, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said on Tuesday.

“Cosatu believes that Gama’s reinstatement, despite … evidence of negligence and mismanagement, is in conflict with the government’s commitment to root out incompetence in the public service and state-owned enterprises, and calls on the Transnet board to reverse its decision,” Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said.

Craven said Cosatu was also concerned that the federation and the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union were not consulted about Gama’s reappointment to the executive committee of Transnet.

“The federation has already expressed its anger at the growing trend of lack of consultation by the ministers, not only with Cosatu but even the directly affected unions … ,” Craven said in a statement.

He said the unions had also not been consulted on the appointment of the South African Airways board and CEO, the chairperson of Telkom, and the imminent appointment of a CEO of Telkom.

Breaches of governance
Last month, parastatal Transnet announced Gama had been reinstated following a review of his dismissal for certain breaches of governance.

Gama was suspended in 2009 on charges related mainly to two procurement contracts signed on his watch.

One of the deals was awarded to General Nyanda Security Advisory Services and was worth R19-million. Gama lacked the authority to sign off on contracts of more than R10-million.

The second contract was awarded to Sibanye Trade Services, which allegedly lacked experience to do the job.

He was fired in June 2010.

Transnet said last month that Gama had not been found guilty of corruption or dishonesty, so he should not have been dismissed, but only issued with a final letter of warning.

“This decision will feed into the perception among many workers that there are people in South Africa who are untouchable because of their political connections,” Craven said. “In contrast to workers who appeal to board chairpersons against unfair treatment and are routinely ignored, certain well-connected individuals seem to be able to escape justice and move into well-paid senior positions.”

Perceptions ‘reinforced’
Craven said the perception that politically well-connected people were untouchable was “reinforced by the reports of Schabir Shaik, who was released from prison on medical grounds and said to be terminally ill, yet is seen playing golf and allegedly assaulting people”.

Cosatu welcomed the re-incarceration of Shaik on Monday “and demands that justice must be applied without any fear or favour”.

Shaik, once a financial adviser for President Jacob Zuma, served just over two years of his 15 year sentence for fraud and corruption, before being released on medical parole with a terminal illness in 2009.

The Sunday Times reported that Shaik had allegedly assaulted a reporter on a golf course and had allegedly assaulted a man in a parking rage incident near a mosque.

Correctional services booked Shaik into prison fro 72 hours to establish whether he had violated his parole conditions, based on the news reports. — Sapa

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