Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. File Photo: IOL

CAPE TOWN - The Economic Freedom Fighters on Friday objected strongly to Transnet's stated intention to fire group chief executive Siyabongo Gama and suggested it was part of a purge by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan of African executives at parastatals.

"The purging of African Executives in state-owned companies border on unlawfulness and disregard of acceptable governance principles. Since their appointment, the Board of Transnet has made several allegations against its GCEO and other executives and yet do not have the courage to subject them to a due process, which will procedurally and fairly determine whether they are guilty of maladministration and corruption," EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said.

He said the EFF urged President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Transnet board "to stop the purging crusade" and focus on improving the performance of South Africa's state-owned companies.

Ndlozi said Transnet was one of the country's best performing parastatals and unlike many others did not rely on bailouts from National Treasury.

Transnet chairman Popo Molefe confirmed on Thursday that the board had informed Gama of its intention to terminate his contract and given him ten days to submit reasons as to why it should not do so.

The reasons supplied to Gama were alleged serious violations of his financial, procurement and fiduciary duties. 

Werksmans Attorneys have reportedly implicated Gama in breaches of procurement rules on a contract to buy new locomotives from Chinese suppliers, which drove the cost of the deal up to R54 billion.

Gama has countered that the investigations were not complete and that investigators misunderstood the procurement rules. He has claimed that he is being targeted by Molefe and called on the president and Gordhan to intervene.

Gordhan has since his appointment as public enterprises minister in February embarked on a drive to end corruption at state-owned companies and to recover public money lost in the so-called state capture scandal.

But the EFF accuses the minister of conducting a "reign of terror" and acting against executives without following due process.

"The EFF once again calls on the president to immediately stop the narcissistic purging crusade by Pravin Gordhan, who is hellbent on installing puppets in the leadership of state-owned companies," Ndlozi said on Friday.

He urged Gama to seek a court interdict preventing his firing.

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African News Agency (ANA)