Transnet was well within its rights to remove former CEO Siyabonga Gama, insists chair of the entity, Popo Molefe.
Speaking to Fin24 on Tuesday afternoon, Molefe dismissed Gama's interpretation of his contract with the entity, as well as a recent court determination.
Gama had spoken to Fin24 on Monday, saying the entity overstepped its powers and those of the court when it advised him on the termination of his employment despite the courts having advised that the matter should go to arbitration just days before.
However, Molefe said when Transnet wrote to Gama about the termination of his employment, it was backed not only by Gama’s failure to make a representation by Friday on why he should not be removed, but also his inability to inspire confidence in the board.
“The notice of termination is about the board losing trust and confidence in him. We have detailed the instances of transgressions where the company has lost a lot of money from reckless management of contracts and advanced payments at the expense of the company," said Molefe.
Other scandals, including the procurement of 1 064 locomotives, 95 confined locomotives and other matters, counted among the issues detailed in transgressions communicated to Gama, Molefe said. He should have replied before the Friday but did not do so, he added.
"He wrote to the minister and copied the president when we asked him to respond. We received his letters but that is neither here nor there. The notice of termination and when it comes is provided for in the contract, and the contract says six months, and that we can dismiss him summarily," said Molefe.
Molefe said the entity sent him a letter of demand to pay back R151m lost under his watch. He said it was not possible for the board to trust someone who lost that much money without reporting the incident to the company or how the money was spent.
"If he says there is a dispute, it can’t be about whether the board can terminate his contract. There can be a dispute on fairness on how we compensate it. There is no dispute otherwise. They knew what they were doing to the company and that they had reason to be concerned," Molefe said.
Molefe said Gama also misinterpreted the meaning of the court order advising arbitration. Gama said the decision to tell him he had been dismissed walked all over the authority of the courts in his regard.
"The narrative that the board has acted in contempt of court is not true. There is no court order that orders us not to terminate the contract," Molefe retorted.
Molefe said the courts advised that the outcome would have been different for Gama and he would have easier access to court relief if he opted for arbitration in the first place.