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Johannesburg - The board of South Africa's state-owned freight and logistics company, Transnet, on Wednesday apologised for failing to appear before Parliament's standing committee on public accounts (Scopa), saying that it was committed to having proper engagements with lawmakers.

Board chairwoman Linda Mabaso and her team were expected to respond to Members of Parliament (MPs) on questionable contracts worth billions of rands, but she indicated to Scopa chairman Themba Godi on Monday, that she would prefer the meeting take place in January. 

According to Godi, Mabaso called him again on Tuesday, saying she and her team would not be appearing. Godi informed her the meeting would go ahead and she and her team were expected to attend.

"The board is of the view that for that engagement to be meaningful and constructive, it is important for the board to be properly informed of all issues that were contained in the information that Transnet management had submitted to the committee," Transnet said.

"Transnet confirms that it was aware of the Scopa meeting that was to take place on 6 December 2017. The management of Transnet was prepared for the Scopa engagement and had submitted a further presentation to Scopa on Monday 4 December 2017."

Scopa is set to discuss the various concerns that were raised by the committee and to pave a way for enhancing Transnet's business processes, including  Public Finance Management Amendment Act (PFMA) violations as well as Transnet’s deviations from the open bidding process and various contract extensions.

Transnet is of the view that it has complied fully with the regulatory framework applicable to deviations and extensions.

Transnet said that its board members were left with less than 48 hours to prepare for the engagement with Scopa as they had not attended either of the previous two Scopa sessions, except for Mabaso, held on 22 and 28 November, respectively.

"The members of the board were concerned about the short notice and felt that they were inadequately prepared to engage meaningfully with scopa with the limited time provided.  Furthermore, some board members would not have been able to attend at such short notice," Transnet said.

The company said it was committed to transparency, accountability and continuous improvement to its control environment. 

"To the extent that Transnet's failure to appear at the Scopa meeting could be perceived as an act of disrespect toward Parliament, Transnet offers its unreserved apology both to Parliament and the South African public at large," Transnet said. 

"Transnet's absence must not be interpreted as defiance of Parliament, or unwillingness to co-operate or to avoid accountability."