Bongani Maseko. Picture: BUSINESS DAY
Bongani Maseko. Picture: BUSINESS DAY

African Harvest, a minority shareholder in the Airports Company of SA (Acsa), has asked Transport Minister Blade Nzimande to remove acting chairman Roshan Morar and CEO Bongani Maseko as directors of the state-owned entity.

In its letter to the minister, African Harvest, which holds most of a 4.2% minority share in Acsa, noted that the terms of office of Morar and Maseko had expired at the end of December 2017, yet both men remained in their roles.

The African Harvest letter, which was leaked by a staff member, of March 14 2018 also requests the resolution of an impasse in disciplinary proc-esses involving senior personnel and calls for a general meeting of Acsa shareholders and the appointment of a permanent chief financial officer.

An Acsa spokesman said matters related to the board and shareholders were considered by those groups, and the company itself had no involvement. "This is standard corporate governance that separates out the role of management in the company on a day-to-day basis from the roles of the board and the shareholders.

"Similarly, details of employees’ contracts of employment are private and confidential; that applies to the CEO’s contract as well," the spokesman said.

Morar said he would respond to questions after a meeting last Wednesday, but at the time of writing he had not yet done so.

African Harvest’s letter was prompted by a note, dated February 28 2018, to Nzimande from Acsa’s audit and risk committee in which it expressed its "serious concern" and also notified the minister of a breach of corporate governance and irregular and unlawful conduct at the entity.

In an addendum it attached the minutes of the committee’s meeting, alleging seven instances of gross misconduct and breaches of the Public Finance Management Act.

The audit and risk committee followed up its first note to Nzimande with another letter in which it called for the minister’s "urgent and decisive" intervention in the matter.

The letters, which have also been sent to Acsa’s board and its shareholders, follow forensic reports recommending disciplinary action against Maseko and three senior managers.

The forensic reports have also prompted a staff campaign that demands action be taken against Maseko and three senior managers. The campaign said it had sent letters to the minister and the Presidency, in which it pleaded for an intervention.

Neither the Presidency nor the transport department have acknowledged their receipt of the letters.

Neither have responded to requests for comment.

Through its official channels, Acsa has steadfastly refused to provide details of the matter.

It has also not provided reasons for not resolving the disciplinary process put in motion by a board resolution.

The state-owned Public Investment Corporation, which owns 20% of Acsa, has similarly not responded to inquiries from Business Day.

The state owns 74.6% of Acsa, while 1.19% is owned under a staff incentive scheme.

The 4.21% balance of the shares that are owned by African Harvest is the subject of litigation that has been brought by African Harvest to exit the airports operator.

The action was first brought in 2016 by African Harvest and Up-Front Investments as empowerment partners.

They said in court papers that the shares were sold under the false pretence that Acsa would list on the JSE.

An Acsa spokesman said it had made an offer to African Harvest and had not received any related response by the stipulated deadline.