Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Ghaleb Cachalia MP.
The blame for the calamitous failure of former Transnet CEO, Portia Derby and her Executive, lies squarely with the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan as he signed off on their appointment in 2020. As the architect of this disastrous Executive team, Gordhan must demand the immediate resignation of the last holdout – the Chief Executive of Transnet Freight Rail, Siza Mzimela. If she refuses to resign voluntarily she must be fired with immediate effect.
Moreover, it’s time Minister Gordhan vacated office too. The buck stops with him. He has previously spoken of ‘green shoots’ at Transnet when there were only weeds to be found. Gordhan sets the policies, makes the appointments and crafts the impediments – wittingly or unwittingly. As the shareholder’s representative, he has failed.
That said, reports indicate that Mzimela is refusing to step aside from her position, choosing instead to fight against calls for her resignation. This is despite the fact that she has presided over the collapse of Transnet’s freight capacity, which was easily the largest revenue generator for Transnet – not to mention the significant decline in export volumes and the corresponding export receipts.
Transnet needs a clean break from the discredited Derby executive and Mzimela should follow her boss through the door. Any new CEO that will be appointed at Transnet will find it hard to turn around the SOE as long as holdouts from the previous administration refuse to make way for a new start.
The DA is concerned that the same Gordhan who made these discredited appointments at Transnet in 2020 is going to be the same individual who hires the next Transnet CEO. If he was really committed to hiring based on merit, he would step aside and delegate the responsibility to Parliament.
With Gordhan’s failure of leadership and continued poor record to turn Transnet around, the DA has a pending request before the Parliament Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises in which we called for an urgent inquiry into the crisis unfolding at Transnet with a view to developing a roadmap to recovery that would stabilize the entity, save the economy and protect jobs.
Parliament has an obligation to step in and fill the leadership vacuum before Transnet sends the economy over the cliff and spawns a socio-economic crisis never seen before the dawn of democracy – the makings of a catastrophe.