Gama may return to lead Transnet

2010-07-03 10:55

Recently ousted Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) chief executive

Siyabonga Gama could still return to lead the

firm’s parent company – Transnet.

His possible return is linked to who wins the contest to be the

chairperson of Transnet.

Two leading candidates for the job are Mikki Xayiya, the executive

chairperson of the Mvelaphanda Group, and Bobby Godsell, chairperson of Business

Leadership and a national planning commissioner.

The Transnet chairperson position is widening the cracks within the

ANC and the public enterprises department over the leadership of parastatals,

particularly those that command billions in procurement budgets.

Xayiya’s support comes from a bloc that is led by Enoch Godongwana,

the deputy minister of public enterprises.

Godsell has found favour with the unions.

Three sources this week said Gama was

likely to return should the ANC’s preferred candidate ­become the chair.

The ANC ­deployment committee has long announced its preference for


ANC general secretary Gwede Mantashe has recently voiced his

support for Gama, arguing that he was a capable

manager who was given a raw deal.

Early this year, Mantashe complained about the lack of consultation

by the ruling party’s deployment committee of ANC Cabinet ministers in the

appointment of senior executives and board members of parastatals.

Minister of Public Enterprises Barbara Hogan is expected to

­announce the new board chairperson in two weeks.

Should she emerge from the power battle between the ANC and the

government unscathed, she may appoint a different chair­person.

This may signal the death knell for Gama’s shot at the top job given that Hogan has

supported Transnet’s decision to fire him.

The chairperson is expected to lead the process to find Transnet’s

next chief executive.

One source said: “Some within the ANC are arguing that a precedent

has been set in which people who fell out with their former boards or former

executives have been appointed to lead parastatals after a new power bloc within

the ANC emerges. They use the example of Solly Mokoetle at the SABC to make

their case.

“Gama’s return will be a function of

which power bloc wins the day.”

Sources say Gama will face

competition from internal candidates Pradeep Maharaj, Tau Morwe, Karl Socikwa

and embattled PetroSA chief executive Sipho Mkhize.

Maharaj is the group executive for human resources, Morwe has

replaced Gama as acting head of TFR, while Socikwa

stepped into Morwe’s old job as head of ­Transnet Port Terminals.

The leadership instability at the parastatals has not been good for


Kuseni Dlamini, chief executive of Old ­Mutual SA and Emerging

Markets, said: “If we care about promoting the economic interest of the country,

the government needs to ensure that parastatals are functional, well-resourced

and led efficiently.

“There is no way we can have a globally competitive economy with

world-class companies without ­efficient parastatals.”

Efforts to fill the leadership ­vacuum at Transnet are happening

two months after President Jacob ­Zuma appointed the Presidential State Owned

Enterprises Review Commission.

The commission is unlikely to have an input in this process

­because it still does not have its Terms of Reference (ToR).

It is now drafting the ToR that will guide it in going about

reviewing the nearly 300 entities owned by the state across all government


The commissioners had met with Minister for Monitoring and

Evaluation in the Presidency Collins Chabane to interpret their mandate, said

­Harold Maloka, the minister’s spokesperson.

Maloka added that the ToR was being finalised but would not provide

a definite date for completion.

Given the presidential commission’s scope, it is likely that it

will swallow the review that is headed by Hogan and Minister of Finance Pravin


The Presidential Commission has identified the process of

­appointing the boards and senior managers at parastatals as one of its main


This focus is likely to put the commission at the centre of a

raging storm between the government and the ruling ANC.

Articles of Association for some parastatals give authority to the

state to appoint its own leaders. The ANC has preferred to second its own

comrades to lead these ­entities.

The Presidential Commission plans to investigate the workings of

the relationship between the boards and their chief executives in the wake of

the public and legal ­battles between former Eskom boss, Jacob Maroga, and Gama and their boards.

The commission will also busy ­itself by combing out the payment

structures within the parastatals, particularly the bonuses and


Eskom’s remuneration report which was released on Friday is a good

place to start.

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