Gama continues his fight for Transnet top job

A SENIOR Transnet official was allegedly used to discredit Transnet Freight Rail head Siyabonga Gama, the Johannesburg high court heard on Friday.

A SENIOR Transnet official was allegedly used to discredit Transnet Freight Rail head Siyabonga Gama, the Johannesburg high court heard on Friday.

Transnet group executive for human resources Pradeep Maharaj was allegedly "scapegoated" by the parastatal's acting CEO Chris Wells to discredit Gama, who was one of five candidates in the running for Transnet's post of group chief executive.

Maharaj, who reports to Wells, decided to take disciplinary action against Gama, which was endorsed by the company's board and subsequently led to his suspension last month.

Gama accused Wells of having ulterior motives against him, so he allegedly resurrected procurement regulations laid to rest to prevent him from possibly being appointed the company head.

Wells was also initially a candidate for the top post but withdrew earlier. Acting Transnet board chairman Geoff Everingham, Wells and Maharaj filed responding affidavits in court last week, dismissing Gama's allegations.

Everingham said in reference to a letter, written earlier this year by former Transnet chairman Fred Phaswana to former public enterprises minister Brigitte Mabandla, that Gama did not qualify for the top position.

The letter said: "Mr Gama was thoroughly considered but there are important gaps, relative to the requirements for this position. He requires greater cognitive development to handle the complexity of this position."

Gama's suspension followed allegations of procurement irregularities against him.

These included Gama's alleged awarding of contract to Sibanye Trade Services to refurbish 50 locomotives though they lacked experience to do so.

Gama, who had authority to sign off on contracts worth less than R10m, also allegedly awarded a R19m contract to a security firm with alleged links to Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda.

He was suspended pending the outcome of an internal hearing.

Transnet's legal team argued in court on Friday that the company was obliged to take action against any perceived mismanagement regardless of who made the decision to do so.

Gama approached the court last week with an urgent application to overturn his suspension.

Judge Brian Spilg will hand down a decision on Wednesday.

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