Satawu demanded an audience with the Minister for Transport and the Transnet board. Photo Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) yesterday demanded an audience with the Minister for Transport and the Transnet board to explain what it considers knee-jerk political purges in state-owned enterprises (SOEs) as news broke on the suspension of Transnet chief executive Siya­bonga Gama and two executives.

Satawu’s executive co-ordinator Jack Mazibuko said yesterday: “We are not defending individuals here, but we are concerned that the investigations are being conducted for the sake of being conducted. 

"Why the haste to suspend (Gama) when there are still investigations being done?” 

He said the inconclusive investigations at SOEs were often detrimental to workers who then struggled to get their incentives payments. He said Satawu was acting on having a meeting with the Minister for Transport and the Transnet board to ensure transparency and the protection of workers.

In a statement yesterday, Transnet board chairperson Popo Molefe said Gama, engineering chief executive Thamsanqa Jiyane and executive manager Lindiwe Mdletshe had been served with letters of intention to place them on precautionary suspension.

He said there were specific transgressions unearthed by Werksmans Attorneys, Mncedisi Ndlovu & Sedumedi Attorneys and Fundudzi Forensic Investigators as well as recommendations for further investigations to be conducted to establish the extent of the misconduct. 

Gama is being further probed for allegations that he wrongfully obtained his MBA with the help of a service provider to Transnet, McKinsey.

The three Transnet executives have until Monday's close of business to make written submissions on why they should not be suspended.

Mazibuko said similar investigations were still on-going at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa as well as SAA, where people were implicated, but no conclusions made, leaving workers and their incentives in a lurch.

An analyst at Candor Governance, Gerrit van der Merwe, said South Africa’s Companies Act, the Public Finance Management Act, procurement regulations and King IV adequately equip boards to lead organisations.

“All we are witnessing now is the proper application of compliance blended with ethical leadership. 

"All we are witnessing is the leadership our country was thirsting for,” Van der Merwe said.

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