Xolisa Phillip News editor
Transport Minister Dipuo Peters. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Transport Minister Dipuo Peters. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

Transport Minister Dipuo Peters on Monday issued an amended notice of intent to remove four Airports Company SA (Acsa) board members at a shareholders’ meeting scheduled for next Monday in a move that has stunned her critics.

Peters has also waived the 10-day notice for shareholders to prepare for such a meeting.

Minority shareholders have written to Acsa opposing the minister’s waiver.

In the amended notice, sent out late on Monday and which Business Day has seen, Peters has taken John Lamola off the list of Acsa nonexecutive directors facing the axe. Instead, Kate Matlou, who spearheaded the board’s bid to have Acsa CEO Bongani Maseko suspended, is now facing the chop.

The latest development was seen as a barely concealed attempt by Peters to scupper the board’s efforts to have Maseko suspended and disciplined for contributing to the rot at Acsa and weakening its supply chain.

Peters, through her spokesman Ishmael Mnisi, said on Tuesday her actions had nothing to do with the CEO.

The four nonexecutive directors facing the axe — Matlou, McDonald Kenosi Moroka, Bajabulile Luthuli and Chwayita Mabude — are part of crucial committees responsible for ensuring that Acsa complies with key governance prescripts, including the Public Finance Management Act.

Moroka chairs the social and ethics committees, as well as an ad hoc committee set up to handle the suspensions of three Acsa senior managers and their disciplinary cases. Matlou is on the social and ethics committees. Luthuli and Mabude are on the audit and risk committee, responsible for making sure Acsa produces credible financial statements to the auditor-general when the parastatal undergoes an audit.

Should they go, however, the committee will not be able to discharge its mandate because it will be reduced to two members but needs to have a minimum of three members in order to discharge its mandate. Acsa is also nearing its financial year-end.

Matlou, Mabude and Moroka referred questions to Acsa, while Luthuli’s cellphone was switched off.

Highly placed sources, who are not authorised to speak to the media, expressed shock at the minister’s actions saying she was the "last person" from whom they would have expected the recent actions.

Asked why Peters had done an about-turn on Lamola and motivated for Matlou’s removal, Mnisi said: "It was an inadvertent administrative error."

He was also adamant that "this has absolutely nothing to do with the CEO". Instead, it had to do with filling "critical skills lacking in the board". Mnisi also said board members could be moved around committees as and when the need arose.

Acsa said the board had taken a decision not to suspend Maseko, despite this being contradicted by documents, including a Norton Rose Fulbright legal opinion and charge sheet, which was seen by Business Day.

Minority shareholder Alun Frost, of African Harvest Strategic Investments, which holds a 1.4% stake in Acsa, has written to Acsa to oppose the minister’s waiver application.

Company secretary Nosisa Kekana rejected the opposition saying that the minister was only available next Monday.

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