/ 31 May 2018

Ex-ACSA legal head wants CEO Maseko to feel the Blade

In early April 2018
In early April 2018

A request for a high court interdict that would prevent minister of transport Blade Nzimande from reappointing Bongani Maseko as CEO of Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), or extending his term of office, will only be heard later in the year.

A law firm involved in the matter told Fin24 on Wednesday.

According to court documents seen by Fin24, the application for the interdict will be pending finalisation of another application relating to the ACSA board’s alleged inability to, and reasons for not, suspending or instituting disciplinary action on seven charges of gross misconduct against Maseko.

Bonginkosi Mfusi, the former group legal counsel for ACSA, is bringing the application for the interdict. He says in his supporting affidavit that he turned to the court after the ACSA board “failed to act” on a board resolution dating from February 2017. He claims the resolution was to “suspend and discipline” Maseko on charges of gross misconduct arising from a forensic investigation.

According to the law firm, no notice that the application will be opposed by ACSA has been received as yet.

Mfusi claims three other senior ACSA employees, namely Jabu Khambule, Bongani Machobane and Percy Sithole, were named along with Maseko in a forensic investigation by Dr VS Mncube Consulting.

According to Mfusi, Khambule, Machobane and Sithole were disciplined and dismissed by the ACSA board, but nothing has been done against Maseko to date.

Mfusi claims that his own involvement in formulating charges against Khambule, Machobane and Sithole, as well as against Maseko, and his own involvement in the disciplinary process of Khambule, Machobane and Sithole, has led to his dismissal by ACSA.

Mfusi has, therefore, also filed a case of unfair dismissal with the Labour Court in this regard. According to Mfusi, he has directly been affected and harmed by the inaction of the board to suspend or discipline Maseko. He says Maseko was appointed CEO of ACSA in May 2013 for a term of five years. His term of office expired in May 2018.

Mfusi claims a forensics investigation by Norton Rose Fulbright attorneys confirmed the process of suspending and disciplining Maseko for “corruption and gross misconduct”.

He claims the board has failed to act in good faith and to discharge its fiduciary duties in the best interest of ACSA by suspending Maseko and disciplining him prior to the end of his term of office.

Mfusi does not stipulate in his affidavit what the “corruption and gross misconduct” entailed.

Mfusi filed his application on May 24. On May 29 a statement was issued on behalf of Nzimande. The minister stated that he is tasked with restoring good corporate governance and financial prudence ACSA. He said he is committed to dealing with instances of maladministration, corruption and state capture.

In early April 2018, Nzimande met with the ACSA board and committed to prioritise dealing with allegations of irregularities, corruption and violations in terms of the Public Finance Management Act against Maseko – who is still ACSA’s chief executive.

READ MORE: Acsa lawyer seeks board’s removal for failure to discipline CEO

Nzimande directed the ACSA Board to provide him with a report on how to “restore stability” at ACSA. The board is yet to submit the report to him.

“I will ensure that all transport entities reporting under me, without exception, subscribe to the notion of good corporate governance and at all the material times and that they aspire to promote sound and prudent financial management,” Nzimande said in his statement.

“These principles will be underpinned by transparency, accountability and value for money.”

He intends to stabilise ACSA by filling all vacant positions at the board level, which will then lead to the board appointing a CEO. “It, however, must be noted that due to the high rate of resignations at the ACSA board, the process to appoint a new CEO has been derailed. I, therefore, have extended the contract of the current CEO for a period not exceeding six months, to ensure that there is no vacuum of leadership,” said Nzimande.

He said once this has been done, he will “instantly direct” the board to attend to the findings of three separate forensic reports produced by Deloitte, Norton Rose Fulbright and Dr VS Ncube Consulting.

He will also work with the Auditor-General, the Public Protector and other relevant state organs to ensure accountability of ACSA at all times. — Fin 24