Gobodo will axe staff

2014-06-08 15:00

Audit, advisory and forensic service firm retrenches workers two years after netting R300?million tender

Barely two years after being awarded a multimillion-rand tender to audit freight logistics group Transnet, SizweNtsalubaGobodo is cutting staff.

The audit, advisory and forensic services firm scored a five-year contract valued at more than R300?million from the parastatal in 2012, a move lauded by former public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba as “a significant milestone in the history of the accounting and auditing profession as much as it is for the transformation of our procurement patterns”.

Many observers saw it as a way to help Gobodo grow and break the dominance of the so-called big four accounting firms in South Africa, which include Deloitte and PwC.

The SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu), the majority union at Transnet, said at the time that the practice of appointing black professional firms as junior partners to their white counterparts “must go”.

But trouble has been brewing at Gobodo since January, according to an insider, who declined to be named because he did not want to “trash” his company.

“At the beginning of the year, over 30 people were let go,” he said. “Managers have been jumping ship.

“The CEO is leaving. It’s an audit firm. This shouldn’t be happening. Chartered accountants are about planning and forecasts.”

But the firm’s CEO, Victor Sekese, who refused to say how many people would be affected, said it was just a reorganisation of the company’s operations following the merger of SizweNtsaluba VSP and Gobodo Incorporated three years ago.

“Following an in-depth analysis of the current organisational structure, we have embarked on a postmerger reorganisation process,” he said.

“Since the firm’s merger in 2011, the board feels it is now in a position to accurately take stock of the business and best position it for further growth.”

According to him, this involved not renewing contracts of certain staff members in the firm’s assurance business due to “overcapacity”, but it was still business as usual for the firm itself.

“All of the firm’s executives, including myself, will remain in their current capacity.”

Transnet’s spokesperson Mboniso Sigonyela said the parastatal did not comment on its suppliers’

human resources activities, referring all questions to Gobodo.

“Having said that, the team that SizweNtsalubaGobodo committed to the Transnet audit will not be affected by any changes”.

Attempts to reach public enterprises ­director-general Tshediso Matona were unsuccessful.

Satawu spokesperson Vincent Masoga said the union was worried about the retrenchments.

“I am sure they used job creation as a motivation for the tender,” he said.

“The issue is, we cannot continue to say we are enjoying economic transformation, yet we are shedding jobs.

“If this current retrenchment is linked to Transnet, [Gobodo] must explain themselves.

“We also do not want to jump the gun and accuse them wrongfully before we get full explanations.

“We know that economic conditions are tough, but workers must be protected.”

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