Former Denel board member Nonyameko Mandindi and current board chairperson Monhla Hlahla have accused the previous board of crippling the state-owned entity.
The two were testifying before the Zondo commission into state capture on Monday on allegations of corruption related to the arms company after the new board was appointed by former public enterprises minister Lynne Brown in July 2015.
“The board has long decided that it would undertake a lifestyle audit. It is just a matter of, with our limited budget, the audit committee being able to prioritise the investigations [and] the allegations of corruption. But we also lost a lot of time during Covid-19. I think maybe a lot of work would have been done by now,” said Hlahla.
She said that Denel had suffered huge reputational damage as a result of poor decisions taken by the previous board and that the current board has decided to also investigate the supply chain process and improve its credibility and reputation.
The commission last heard Denel-related evidence in March 2019 when former CEO Riaz Saloojee appeared. He said that he was fired over his refusal to cooperate with the Guptas and their desire to capture Denel.
Last week Denel CEO Talib Sadik told Parliament’s public enterprises portfolio committee how maladministration and corruption at SOE’s had compromised the security of South Africa.
“We do play a key role to our defence industry, and the national defence industry council identified that the liquidity challenges facing Denel compromise the national security of our country,” said Sadik.
Mandindi and four other executives resigned in 2017 amid allegations of corruption involving Denel-Asia’s joint venture with Gupta-linked VR Asia.
The inquiry has spent weeks hearing evidence about corruption and mismanagement at the arms company, with current and former employees testifying about unlawful deals that the company secured with the Gupta family’s businesses.