End executive 'bullying' in Transnet, state capture inquiry hears

A Transnet executive has said supply chain staff at the entity were at times pressured by senior officials to make unlawful decisions, and called for a regulation that would make bullying a dismissable offence.

In his evidence before the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture, Peter Volmink said employees in procurement were sometimes bullied by executives to "comply with things that are known to be wrong".

"It should be a dismissable offence for a senior executive to bring undue pressure on an official to do things that are contradictory to the procurement requirements," he said, as he made recommendations on how to improve procurement at the state-run freight rail company. According to Volmink, such a regulation would send a clear message at executive level.

Capacity boosting

Volmink, executive manager of governance at Transnet, also recommended that the board and executive committee must receive "in-depth supply chain training" as part of boosting capacity.

He told the inquiry that various remedial steps had been taken buy the board and management to improve governance, including the establishment of a finance and investment committee to provide oversight for high-value tenders.

Volmink outlined several practices that had led to poor implementation of supply chain management protocols, such as sudden increase in procurement transactions before year-end, as well as poorly developed tender specifications.

He suggested that changing criteria during bid evaluation and adjudication was done in order to"give advantage to a particular bidder".

Several past and present Transnet executives are expected to give evidence before the inquiry over the coming week. 

This week, the inquiry kicked off its hearing into the firm with testimony by board chair Popo Molefe.

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