Former Transnet CEO, Siyabonga Gama, warned that the real collapse of Transnet has not yet happened and people will watch it happen.
He denied all allegations levelled against him by other witnesses who had appeared before the commission including former Non-Executive Chair of the Transnet board, Popo Molefe.
He also denied laundering money to the Guptas and that his appointment at the entity was influenced by former Public Enterprise Minister, Malusi Gigaba.
Gama says he was not an architect of State Capture as alleged by Molefe. He told the commission there has been inconsistencies in some of the witness statements before the commission- including that of Molefe.
He said Molefe’s evidence was designed to tannish his reputation and he had a personal vendetta against him.
“According to Molefe my appointment was due to the influence of Gigaba. This allegation I believe has been purposed to fit the State Capture narrative. I have worked through the ranks and was appointed as CEO through hard work and dedication and not through the influence hand of Gigaba as Mr Popo Molefe would have you believe. Mr Gigaba was appointed as Public Enterprise Minister in 2010, at that time I had already worked for Transnet for more than 16 years,” he added.
Gama said he was the one who terminated the contracts of Gupta- linked Trillian and Regiments and there has been no evidence produced by Molefe on allegations that he is corrupt and a fraud. Gama says truths and facts have been twisted by the media.
Gama defended his leadership at Transnet, saying the entity’s total revenue and operating profits were at their best when he was at the helm of the organisation. He warned that Transnet is on a downhill slope.
“Your observers must watch if there will not be a decline leading to a real collapse and profitability over the next three years when the impact of Prasarisation fully sets in. Between 2016 and 2016 Transnet embarked on a process to start anew strategy, for the year ended March 2018 Transnet announced 75 % growth in net profits of R4.9 billion against an increase of 11.3 % to 72.9 billion driven by strong volume growth. These were not the results of a struggling company yet in May 2019. Molefe informed the commission that the new board had averted a financial collapse,” he said.
‘2018 board incompetent’
Gama claimed the Transnet board appointed in 2018 was incompetent and ill-equipped. He says the board was further dismantled by the company’s corporate strategy accusing him and every executive with long year tenure at the entity of corruption and executing them.
“My attempts to induct the board to Transnet processes, control systems, strategy’s and challenges and to arm the board with the necessary information , even to educate them and to ally the allegations, was armed with huge resistance. They were armed with no operational knowledge or expertise of the company they directed. Then they set out their mandate of rooting out corruption at Transnet by way of nothing less than a purge by removing the entire top layer of executive management starting with the Group Chief executive in 2018.”
‘Real state capture’
Gama told the commission multinational mining company Anglo American was the real state capture. Anglo-Kumba earnings, before interest taxed ended 21 December 2020, increased to a rate of R45.8 billion.
He says for years Transnet tried to normalise the tariff being paid by big mining companies for rail freight but has failed. He told the commission the Kumba/Transnet agreement is anti-competitive, exclusionary and has kept out Black junior iron Ore miners, who don’t have capacity to export Iron Ore or Manganese in their own names.
He says to this day, Kumba pays Transnet R1 billion less per annum than what they ought to pay and had it tariff been normalised in line with Assmang’s tariffs which was normalised in 2013.
“And this anti-competitive behaviour and the super profits being earned by Kumba is set to be condoned until 2028. Any Transnet official who seeks to normalise this earns the wrath of the Anglo,” says the former Transnet boss.
Gama’s testimony in the video below: