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'Zuma tried to force me to appoint Siyabonga Gama as Transnet head' - Barbara Hogan

Former CEO of Transnet Siyabonga Gama.
Former CEO of Transnet Siyabonga Gama.
Image: Robert Tshabalala

Former public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan has detailed how Jacob Zuma insisted on the appointment of Siyabonga Gama as Transnet’s group executive.

Testifying at the state capture inquiry on Monday‚ Hogan said she met the former president a month into her appointment in 2009 to discuss issues affecting the parastatal‚ especially that of appointing a permanent group executive to replace Maria Ramos.

After an extensive process‚ Transnet’s board recommended Sipho Maseko - who at the time was CEO of BP South Africa.

But Zuma apparently would not have it.

"I felt it necessary to inform the president that Transnet did not have a CEO. That's a serious thing and I gave him a full background to the whole process of the appointment of the CEO. The Transnet annual general meeting was coming up‚" Hogan said.

"I was extremely shocked. He would not hear of any candidate except Siyabonga Gama. I informed him that Gama was facing some serious misconduct charges [and] that the board‚ in terms of the PFMA‚ was obliged to investigate these charges.

"Under these circumstances it would not be in the interest of Transnet to appoint a group executive whose time would be caught up defending these allegations.

“[Zuma] then said to me: You may not appoint anyone to the board - because the board also had to have changes - until Gama's disciplinary is over." At the time‚ Gama was facing charges over tender irregularities which saw the irregular awarding of an R18m contract to a company owned by then-communications boss Siphiwe Nyanda.

"Firstly‚ he (Zuma) insisted that I go ahead and appoint Gama. I said I couldn't. He then said that no appointment to Transnet must be made until the disciplinary process against Gama was concluded. I said I would provide him with further evidence. I was already feeling that the president was exceeding his authority here‚" Hogan said.

Gama was fired last month‚ following investigations that implicated him in misconduct and maladministration in the acquisition of locomotives worth R54bn from General Electric‚ Bombardier Transport‚ China South Rail and China North Rail in 2012 - a deal allegedly facilitated by members of the controversial Gupta family and their associates.

It was reported that two months before being permanently appointed as Transnet group CEO in 2016‚ Gama enjoyed a two-night stay at the five-star Oberoi Hotel in Dubai‚ apparently courtesy of the Gupta family. Gama reportedly confirmed meeting key Gupta lieutenant Salim Essa during the stay‚ but denied the Guptas paid for him.

- TMG Digital.

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