Cape Town - The board of Denel faces the prospect of being subpoenaed and also having to explain why the costs of a cancelled meeting with the public accounts watchdog should not be borne by it personally.
This after the board snubbed Tuesday’s meeting with the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) despite assurances over the past weekend that it would have some representation.
The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) was to have briefed the MPs on the investigations it was conducting at the entity.
Denel is one of the few SOEs under Public Enterprises that requested to submit its annual reports to Parliament after the stipulated deadline last year.
Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa found the snubbing of the meeting to be a dereliction of duty and undermining of Parliament, when he postponed the meeting to June 14.
“If the board is not here, I will make a formal proposal to the committee that the board be subpoenaed to appear before Parliament.
“This is the last instance of us tolerating this because, I can tell you, we have had no favourable relationship with the chair of the board when they appeared here before.
“It has not been pleasant and this (lack of appearance) goes to underscore exactly that,” he said.
Denel board chairperson Gloria Serobe wrote a letter to Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan indicating that she would be abroad but other members would be present.
Deputy Minister Obed Bapela told Scopa that none of the board members could be found and asked to attend.
Bapela also said Serobe had indicated that she would endeavour to have another board member to be present.
“When she tried to get other members, most were engaged and some are travelling abroad. We don’t have a board member present in this meeting,” he said.
ANC MP Sakhumzi Somyo said the failure of the board to attend the meeting was unpardonable.
“We note the apology of the chairperson, but the fact that she failed to fulfil the undertaking is something else we should put a thumb on, and we can’t continue in (the) absence of the board,” Somyo said.
DA MP Alf Lees said they needed to understand why Serobe was not in the meeting.
“If it is to get a bailout from the British or Russian government, well, maybe, we will support it. The chair of the board is not the marketing agent for Denel or the chair would not play some role in marketing,” he said.
EFF MP Constance Nonhlahla Mkhonto said the snub by the board was a reflection of what was going on at Denel.
“There is a board on paper. Physically there is no board. You look at reports and behaviour of the board, it means there is no board at Denel,” Mkhonto said.
Hlengwa noted that Denel was a mess and a shadow of its former self.
“It not only wastes Parliament’s time and resources, the SIU and department are here. They should explain why (the) cost should not be borne by them personally.”
He said he would ask for a “fully fledged explanation” why he should not ask Parliament to check the cost of the MPs, SIU and the department, and attach to the board members personally.
“This thing of rogue boards at SOEs is precisely why SOEs are crippled in the manner they are,” Hlengwa said, before instructing the committee secretariat to request the Parliament legal services to draft a subpoena.
Bapela said: “We will take the message to them to ensure they are available the next time and at all other future meetings.”