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Gama may return to lead Transnet

Jul 04 2010 09:06 Siyabulela Qoza

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Johannesburg - 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 Gama.

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 of the ruling party’s deployment committee by 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 Gama.

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 where 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 business.

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.

It is now drafting the terms that will guide it in going about reviewing the nearly 300 entities owned by the state across all government levels.

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.

Raging storm

Maloka added that the terms were 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 Gordhan.

The Presidential Commission has identified the process of appointing the boards and senior managers at parastatals as one of its main focuses.

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 allowances.

Eskom’s remuneration report which was released on Friday is a good place to start.

- City Press

For more business news, go to www.citypress.co.za 

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