Former public enterprises director-general, Kgathatso Tlhakudi, has asked parliament’s speaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, to intervene to ensure that the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises (PCPE) concludes its task on his protected disclosure complaint.
Tlhakudi complained that it had been a year since he submitted a protected disclosure, and six months since he made oral presentation before the PCPE.
He also expressed his dissatisfaction at the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) for dragging its feet in deciding whether Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and those implicated in the South African Airways (SAA) deal with Takatso Consortium, had a case to answer or not.
Tlhakudi who was dismissed in May following his suspension, made a protected disclosure complaint to Mapisa-Nqakula in October last year. He accused Gordhan of corruption and claimed that he was being targeted for refusing to implement illegal and irregular instructions in relation to the sale of SAA.
This was after Gordhan announced the SAA’s partnership with Takatso Consortium which acquired 51% of the government shareholding in 2021. The transaction has been shrouded in secrecy.
In his complaint, Tlhakudi said the SAA transaction was seen as an opportunity to benefit a few privileged individuals favoured by Gordhan in an irregular manner.
He also told Mapisa-Nqakula in his complaint last year, that the misconduct charges against him were a witch hunt because he had expressed concerns about the SAA deal. He asked parliament to investigate the allegations.
Tlhakudi supported his claims during an oral presentation before the PCPE on June 7, 2023.
In a letter dated November 28, Tlhakudi said he was forced to write to Mapisa-Nqakula and request her intervention in ensuring that the PCPE concludes the task she had allocated to them. He said the current parliament had an obligation to fully exhaust the matter before its mandate expires after the general elections next year.
“At the conclusion of my presentation to the PCPE there was unanimous call by all members of PCPE for a parliamentary inquiry into the allegations that I had placed before them,” said Tlhakudi.
He said he did not see how this call would have changed, “notwithstanding” the appearance of Gordhan on September 12, 2023, in which no substantive rebuttal was forthcoming. Tlhakudi said, instead Gordhan had continued to obfuscate by alleging a conspiracy against himself and refusing to answer questions.
“I should point that the minister was due to appear before the PCPE on June 14, a week after my appearance, but deployed delaying tactics including requesting transcripts of my presentation to the committee. This is despite the Department of Public Enterprises and the Ministry being represented during my appearance, and jumping into an aeroplane to Beijing claiming that he needed to meet with the Chinese Railways Company, CRRC, to resolve locomotives spares supply at Transnet.
“A trip that was ill-conceived and which produced no results. The Minister appeared after the PCPE threatened to summon him to appear after they had enough of his delaying tactics,” the letter reads.
Tlhakudi added that the SIU, in its appearance at the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) in May 30 and November 21, also indicated that they were looking into the allegations of impropriety with regard to the Takatso Consortium, which could lead to a proclamation request to the President.
“The SIU process is concerning as well, it cannot take six months to decide whether the Minister of Public Enterprises and anyone else implicated have a case to answer to.
“It is a matter of public record and detailed in my previous correspondence to you that I believe that the Minister of DPE indeed has a case to answer on the Takatso transaction. It is critical that parliament, as the ultimate oversight body, performs its role and concludes the work that the PCPE was tasked to perform.
“In view of the matter being before SCOPA as well and the two agencies of the state, (the) auditor-general and SIU having expressed themselves on the impropriety in the Takatso transaction, that a parliamentary inquiry be convened in line with the rules of parliament.”
Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo did not respond to the questions sent on the matter.
SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said the unit has got processes that are followed before the request for the proclamation is done, and that is as per SIU act.
“The SIU will follow those processes without fear, favour or prejudice,” he said.
Tlhakudi also added that the conduct of the Competition Commission in recommending the Takatso transaction to the Competition Tribunal also needed to be investigated.
“The number of drafts produced and the reasons for material changes need to be substantiated as I have reason to believe that there was interference in the initial analysis work,” he said.
Competition Commission spokesperson Siyabulela Makunga said: “The Competition Tribunal handed down a decision on the matter. Mr Tlhakudi was part of the proceedings when the matter was heard by a competent and independent authority (the tribunal), and he was afforded an opportunity to make his submissions to a panel of adjudicators. From our point of view, the matter is now settled.”
During his appearance before the PCPE, Gordhan dismissed the allegations, saying they were unfounded and unsubstantiated.