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Gama 'hears from media' he was fired as Transnet CEO

Oct 21 2018 18:09
Carin Smith and Lameez Omarjee

Siyabonga Gama's contract as CEO of Transnet has been terminated, the state-owned enterprises' chair Dr Popo Molefe told Fin24 late on Sunday afternoon.

Molefe, who is abroad at the moment, confirmed the termination of Gama's contract to Fin24 in a WhatsApp message.

"Yes Gama’s contract of employment has been terminated," Molefe told Fin24.

Gama told Fin24 in a WhatsApp response on Sunday evening that he has not received any letter from Transnet to that effect.

"A messenger from Transnet has left an envelope at my home with my helper which I will only see when I get home very late this evening," said Gama.

"It is amazing that they would inform you of their intention without me acknowledging its contents. However, it would not surprise me as Popo Molefe, who unfortunately has personalised this matter, has continuously used the media to prosecute me and to cast aspersions on my person and integrity."

He later tweeted about it.

Gama said that if Transnet had indeed decided to terminate his contract, "then their lawyers would have advised them that they are above the law".

"The judge has ordered that the matter go to arbitration and we have given them till Wednesday to agree with us on an appropriate arbitrator. Obviously, if your assertions were true [that he has been fired], I have to weigh all other options available to me," said Gama.

Fin24 reported on Friday that Gama, who is challenging the board of Transnet's decision to sack him from his position as group chief executive of the state railway company, says that Transnet contravened its own processes.

In late September the board said it had served Gama with a letter explaining its decision, citing "serious violations" of his duties, as well as a loss of "trust and confidence" in him.

Gama had until mid-October to show why his contract should not be terminated.

Gama told Fin24 via a Whatsapp message on Friday that he had to approach the courts to stop the board from terminating his employment contract.

“At all material times my attorneys and myself advised and urged Transnet to respect the terms of the employment agreement that stated clearly that any dispute between the parties should be referred to arbitration.

"Transnet contravened its own disciplinary code that states that employees are entitled to a disciplinary hearing. I had no choice but to approach the court to stop the board from terminating my employment contract in breach of its terms and provisions," he said.

In September, Transnet board chairperson Popo Molefe issued a statement indicating that Gama was served with a notice of termination. The reasons relate to alleged "serious violations" of his "financial, procurement and fiduciary responsibilities" as CEO.

The board had lost trust and confidence in Gama's ability to lead Transnet, the statement read.

Gama told Fin24 that he can "rebut all accusations" levelled against him, "with proper facts before a credible judge in an impartial process".

"I invite Transnet to honour the employment contract," he said.

Transnet is considering the judgment and will be guided by its legal team on the matter, spokesperson Molatwane Likhethe said at the time.

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transnet  |  siyabonga gama  |  soes  |  sa economy
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