As startling evidence emerged yesterday that exposed the extent of corruption at Transnet, with Siyabonga Gama one of the central figures in the soap opera, a look back at the archives of Freight News forerunner Freight & Trading Weekly, reveals how adept he was at escaping accountability.
In 2018 Transnet board chairman Popo Molefe cited a breakdown in trust and confidence as the central reason for the firing the former CEO. “The board did not terminate Mr Gama’s contract because of misconduct,” the board said.
At the time Gama was contesting his initial suspension as chief executive – which preceded his dismissal on October 22.
Here are some of the headlines that provide a timeline:
October 2009 – Gama suspended
June 2010 – ‘Gama guilty’.
2011 – ‘Gama back’
And so it goes..
During his time as Transnet Freight Rail CEO he had been found guilty on all of tender irregularities and the irretrievable breakdown
in his relationship with Transnet. His disciplinary action involved alleged irregularities in a locomotive deal and the awarding of a separate contract to General Nyanda Security Advisory Services, which is owned by the communications minister, Simpiwe Nyanda.
This was perhaps the most ironic article which was run in FTW in March 2018:
Transnet is trying to root out Gupta-related corruption: Gama
Transnet is trying to get to the bottom of how the company was committed to contracts that saw an agency linked to the Gupta family earn lavish fees on it infrastructure contracts, CEO Siyabonga Gama told MPs.
"It has given Transnet a very bad name and a very bad reputation, so we are trying to clear now but more importantly, if there are bad apples in Transnet, these bad apples can be removed," he told Parliament's portfolio committee on transport at a briefing on the company's annual results.
Gama said law enforcement agencies were probing allegations that a company set up by the Gupta brothers' close associate Salim Essa, Tequesta, had earned a 21% advisory fee that had amounted to R5 billion for facilitating a contract for 359 locomotives with China South Rail.
Gama said Transnet was in the process of identifying all those individuals and entities within the state freight company that had had a part in procurement corruption.
Gama said it was vital to root out the corruption because Transnet traded on its reputation and had to source funding from local and foreign lenders, without the benefit of government guarantees.