Transnet’s sponsorship deals for SABC/TNA Business Breakfasts was irregular – State Capture report

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The first report of the Zondo Commission into State Capture has found that Transnet’s sponsorship of the SABC /New Age (TNA) Business Breakfasts for millions of rands between 2011 and 2017 was irregular.

Transnet’s Former Group Chief Executive Officer Brian Molefe and the parastatals then Group Manager for Corporate Affairs Mboniso Sigonyela have been fingered as the main role-players in the approval of the sponsorships.

The New Age (TNA) Business Breakfast show was a permanent feature on our television screens over many years until it was shut down by the SABC Interim Board in June 2017.

Hosted by the Gupta Owned New Age Newspaper, the Breakfast featured government Ministers in the main and were sponsored by various parastatals including Eskom and Transnet.

Now, the report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture has painted a damning picture of the role played former Transnet CEO Brian Molefe, and Transnet’s former General Manager of Corporate Affairs Mboniso Sigonyela in securing of millions of rand worth of sponsorship deals for the Breakfasts.

According to the report, Molefe played a significant role in facilitating TNA contracts at Transnet after he was appointed as the Group Chief Executive Officer in February 2011.

Highlighting evidence given by Daniel Phatlane who was Transnet’s Senior Coordinator for Stakeholder Relations at the time, the report says TNA sent the first request for sponsorship of two Breakfasts in September 2011 for a sum of R1.5 million.

The request contained no detail about the value of the sponsorship for Transnet and there was no motivation provided for the price.

Nevertheless, it was recommended by Sigonyela and approved by Molefe.

Six months later, TNA sent another request for the sponsorship of the Breakfast.

This time, it was for 20 Breakfasts for a whopping R20 million.

The report says, however this time around, a memorandum prepared by Sigonyela for approval by Molefe described the deal not as a sponsorship but as a partnership.

It says, this was done in order to bring the contract within Molefe’s signing powers as he was not allowed to sign sponsorships of more than R10 million without Board Approval.

The report says a similar approach was followed at Eskom where Collin Matjila, who was the CEO of the cash- strapped power utility at the time, approved a R43 million contract for sponsoring the Breakfast without seeking approval from the Sponsorship Committee.

The Commission has concluded that the contracts were Irregular and it was fruitless and wasteful expenditure because Transnet did not get any value from it.