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Request for Transnet to be probed over state capture allegations

The launch of the Trans Africa Locomotive in Pretoria. This is the first ever locomotive that has been designed, engineered and manufactured locally by the state-owned entity, Transnet, which will serve the African continent. (Photo: GCIS)

Photo: GCIS

A request for state owned company Transnet to be probed has been put forward by the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac).

Last week Casac requested that public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane investigate alleged corruption and poor corporate governance at Transnet and power utility Eskom.

After leaked emails between members of the Gupta family and several South African ministers surfaced, allegations of state capture were once again raised.

These allegations resulted in several independent bodies and opposition political parties requesting inquiries into state capture by the Gupta family, as well as the role of cabinet ministers and President Jacob Zuma’s family in several locomotive and coal mine deals.

Media reports indicated that Lawson Naidoo, Casac’s executive director, requested that the reappointment of Brian Molefe as group CEO at Eskom be investigated, as well as the role played by the Eskom Board and Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown.

“Despite umpteen damning allegations of flouted governance and procurement policies, and seeming corruption, no disciplinary steps have been taken against the individuals involved,” Naidoo said.

He also said Mkhwebane should probe the role of former public enterprises minister and current Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, along with the appointment of Iqbal Sharma and Molefe to the Transnet board.

In the leaked emails it also came to light, it was discovered that the Guptas scored billions of rand in alleged deals to assist China South Rail win locomotive tenders from Transnet. Naidoo said this should also be probed.

Transnet says procurement is transparent

Responding to these claims, Transnet said it was confident that its procurement processes have sufficient checks and balances to “guarantee integrity”, which includes oversight at various governance levels.

It added that all contracts above a certain threshold are taken through its high-value tender process which is run by an independent auditing firm.

Transnet also said it has set up a special committee made up of mainly independent directors to review the company’s processes, with a specific focus on the locomotive acquisition programme and will announce the findings once the process has concluded.

Malema’s information on Transnet irregularities

On Thursday, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema claimed to have information regarding the alleged tender irregularities at Transnet.

During a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Braamfontein last week, he said he had information that R17bn was lost in corruption over the procurement of 1,064 locomotives at Transnet.

He also said Malusi Gigaba‚ Iqbal Sharma, Brian Molefe‚ Anoj Singh and Garry Pita were involved.

Malema provided the media with documents detailing the alleged involvement of Chinese‚ Canadian and American bidders.

He said the EFF plan to lay criminal charges against the parastatal’s board, whose members allegedly approved the tenders.

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