‘We followed the procedures’: Gigaba defends Brian Molefe’s appointment at Transnet (Part 1)

Date: 27 May 2021

Gigaba returned to the witness stand at the commission to give evidence relating to Transnet while he was minister of public enterprises.

Before former minister of public enterprises Malusi Gigaba could continue with his testimony, the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo confirmed that President Cyril Ramaphosa will appear at a later date in June.

This is after it was announced earlier on Thursday that the President would not testify next week as scheduled.

Ramaphosa is expected to testify in his capacity as the President and former deputy president of the country.

Brian Molefe’s appointment
Gigaba returned to the witness stand at the commission on Thursday, where the former minister defended the the appointment of Brian Molefe as Transnet CEO in 2011.

Evidence leader Anton Myburgh revealed that Transnet board had shortlisted three candidates, but did not indicate their preferred candidate, which was required.

Responding to this, Gigaba said he does not recall on why the Transnet board did not indicated who was their preferred candidate.

However, that did not disrupt the process of recommending a candidate to Cabinet, the former minister said.

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Gigaba further said that there was nothing wrong that was done in regards to Molefe’s appointment, saying that they followed the procedures with Cabinet then approving his appointment.

“In so far as we undertook this process we did not do anything wrong. We followed the procedures which we had outlined and presented to Cabinet. And as I say the Cabinet said to us don’t submit a memo to us to note, but submit it to us to approve,” he said.

This is despite another candidate scoring higher points then Molefe in the interviewing process.

Molefe is alleged to have abused his power at both Eskom and Transnet, and enabled the Gupta family and their aides to secure millions of Rands through lucrative contracts.

Siyabona Gama’s legal fees
Gigaba also dismissed allegations made by Themba Langa of Langa Attorneys that he agreed in a form of a letter that Transnet would pay former CEO Siyabonga Gama’s R12 million legal fees.

During the proceedings, Gigaba told the commission that it was the first time that he had seen the letter, adding that he had left the department of public enterprises by the time it was written.

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“It’s the first tie that I sent this letter. It was not brought to my attention because this letter is dated 25 June 2014 when I was minister of home affairs. The department of public enterprises did not bring it to my attention to query whether there was or there had been such an agreement written to Langa Attorneys,” the former minister said.

Gigaba, however, explained that if there was an agreement the department would have questioned him on why “the minister had made such a written agreement with attorneys of a client that was in dispute with an SOE”.

“The minister of public enterprises does not enter into legal contracts that are binding on state-owned companies. The establishment Acts of these SOEs would not permit that as well as the Companies Act,” he added.

Asked by Myburgh on whether he had any idea about where Langa received the letter, the former minister indicated that he being name dropped by  the attorney in order for to solicit for Gama’s payment.

“It is very strange to me that he [Langa] would submit this letter to the department when he knew I had left the department. By the 25th of June, it had been a whole month since I’d left the department of public enterprises,” he said.

The commission previously heard that taxpayers paid out R13 million for Gama’s settlement agreement although he was found guilty of three charges of misconduct levelled against him in 2009.

READ MORE: ‘The commission has nothing do with our divorce’ – Norma Mngoma

Despite this, years later Gama was reinstated in his position while the Transnet board agreed to pay his full salary and benefits over the unfair dismissal.

The railway agency board also agreed to cover 75% of the taxable portion of Gama’s legal costs related to his disciplinary hearing.

Meanwhile, Gigaba further reiterated that the letter by Langa Attorneys was a “total fabrication”. Cont 2/...

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