Transnet snubs parliament

Themba Godi, President of APC and Chairman of SCOPA.
Themba Godi, President of APC and Chairman of SCOPA.
Image: Robert Tshabalala.

Transnet chairperson Linda Mabaso and her board have evoked the ire of MPs for snubbing a standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) meeting to account for financial deviations at the parastatal.

Transnet was set to appear before Scopa to discuss and account for deviations from normal procurement processes as well as expansions.

The Scopa meeting was one of only two committees sitting in parliament which means MPs had to be flown to Cape Town by parliament just to attend the meeting.

Committee chairperson Themba Godi said Mabaso only alerted him on Monday that she won't be able to make the meeting.

Godi also told MPs that public enterprises minister Lynne Brown submitted a doctor's note that she will not be available for the same meeting because she has been booked off.

"Firstly on Monday I received a letter from the chairperson of the board dated December 4‚ where she was impressing on me that she thinks it will be a good thing if we have to discuss deviations‚ expansions and media reports together. And it would be good if we could do so in January (next year)‚" said Godi.

MPs reacted angrily to the suggestion.

"I agree with colleagues. We didn't call this meeting to look at ourselves and talk to ourselves. This is a hearing of Transnet and we cannot start without them. It's a grave concern. We've never heard this before‚ an entity or a department that doesn't want to come. This is really undermining parliament and the institution itself. Transnet has to be dealt with harshly for what they have done today‚" said ANC MP Nthabiseng Khunou

Tim Brauteseth of the DA said the move by Transnet was "an insult to this committee". DA MP David Ross said it would have been helpful to have a discussion on the matters on Wednesday.

"In terms of extensions and deviations‚ it's also not new. They are aware of all the figures. I find the non-attendance very strange and should have serious consequences for them‚" said Ross.

Mkhuleko Hlengwa (IFP) also expressed his "deep concern” about the "thuggish behaviour" of Transnet.

"They must pay for it (trip) chair. You cannot just willy nilly cancel parliamentary meeting at your own whim because you think you're in an ivory tower of importance. I think it's an abuse of office on their part. Parliament has foot the bill for us to be here. Who's going to foot the bill for that? They must reimburse parliament. It mustn't come from Transnet‚ it must come from their own pockets‚" said Hlengwa.