Siyabonga Gama
TRANSNET yesterday all but fired chief executive Siyabonga Gama, ending months of speculation about his future at the transport logistics and rail utility.

The group, in a statement last night, said that it had served Gama with a letter informing him of its intention to fire him and had given him 10 days to respond to the letter.

Transnet chairperson Popo Molefe said the reasons provided to Gama by the board related to alleged serious violations of his financial, procurement and fiduciary responsibilities as the company’s chief executive.

“As a result, the board had lost trust and confidence in Mr Gama’s ability to lead Transnet as group chief executive.

“The Minister of Public Enterprises, Mr Pravin Gordhan, has been informed of the board’s decision,” Molefe said.

The news means that Gama’s 24-year stint at the company, the last three of which he served as chief executive, has come to an end.

Gama has been caught in the destructive Gupta state capture web over the procurement of the R50billion locomotive acquisition deal which was rumoured to have included a R5bn kickback for Tequesta, a Gupta-controlled group.

This is not the first time that Gama has found himself on the wrong side of procurement at Transnet.

In 2009, he was suspended as chief executive of Transnet Freight Rail, accused of breaching governance requirements related to a tender awarded to General Nyanda Security Advisory Services and another to buy 50 locomotives.

He was later cleared of the allegations and allowed to go back to work.

Rudy Heyneke, portfolio head of transport at the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa), said the organisation was interested in what reasons Gama would advance to stop his dismissal.

“Outa has investigated the 1064 locomotives tender and found evidence implicating Gama and others at subverting procurement laws. His position was untenable as he had also lost the confidence of the board,” Heyneke said.

The writing was on the wall for Gama after a report by MNS Attorneys recommended that Transnet discipline Gama for his role in the dodgy locomotives tender.

Others flagged in the report were former Transnet boss Brian Molefe, former chief financial officer Anoj Singh and chairperson Iqbal Sharma.

A board meeting held in August culminated in the board issuing notices of intention to suspend Gama and two other officials.

Other officials whose heads are on the block are Thamsanqa Jiyane, chief officer of advanced manufacturing at Transnet Engineering, and Lindiwe Mdletshe, senior manager for strategic sourcing at Transnet Freight Rail.

Popo Molefe, who has built a reputation for dealing decisively with perceived corrupt officials, was appointed to his current role by the Cyril Ramaphosa-led administration in May.

His board fired former Passenger Rail Agency of SA chief executive Lucky Montana over allegations of maladministration and later took issue with Montana’s replacement, Collins Letsoalo, who had unilaterally hiked his salary by 350percent.

Letsoalo, too, was swiftly shown the door.

– BUSINESS REPORT