Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Former Airports Company SA (Acsa) chairman Roshan Morar is ineligible to serve as a director of the state-owned airports operator and can therefore no longer be its chairman, says a spokesman for Transport Minister Blade Nzimande.

Morar interrupted an Acsa board meeting on Monday, insisting on being allowed to participate in its deliberations.

The meeting was to discuss possible disciplinary action against CEO Bongani Maseko.

Directors Siyakhula Simelane and Steven Mabela tried in vain to expel Morar from the meeting.

However, the Department of Transport has now confirmed that Morar has no standing on the Acsa board.

"He [Morar] has served his two full terms as representative of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), one of the minority shareholders," the spokesman said on Wednesday.

"The Department of Transport has already notified the PIC of this and is awaiting a new representative of the PIC to serve on the board.

"Minister Nzimande has sent his gratitude letter to Mr Morar for having served Acsa as a board member and chairperson," the spokesman said.

The PIC owns 20% of Acsa.

The department also acknowledged receipt of correspondence from "concerned employees" to which the minister had responded by requesting a report from the Acsa board on the matter.

Nzimande has not yet received the requested report.

At the heart of the boardroom tussle are recommendations in two forensic reports that Maseko be suspended.

A 2016 forensic report by Dr VS Ncube Consulting was adopted by the Acsa board on February 3 2017. One of its recommendations was the suspension of Maseko and associates, while disciplinary processes were under way.

Three senior managers Percy Sithole (procurement), Jabulani Khambule (regional airports) and legal counsel Bongani Machobane were found guilty at an internal disciplinary hearing on corruption charges and of wasteful and fruitless expenditure emanating from the forensic report.

They were suspended on full pay.

Mabela, who is a board member and member of Acsa’s audit and risk committee, said on Wednesday that he had been accused of being behind the staff campaign to have Maseko removed as CEO — a claim that he denies.

Mabela said he was on record in board minutes as consistently demanding that corporate governance be maintained at Acsa. He said he had asked on several occasions that the board resolution to discipline Maseko be carried out, but his efforts had been thwarted by postponements and by what he called, without elaborating, "political interference".

Mabela said that despite Acsa being profitable, everything was not right at the company, referring to, among other matters, his objections to further investment in Acsa’s 20% interest in Aeroporto de Guarulhos Participações in Brazil.

He objected to the investment — now standing at about R1.2bn — on the grounds of separate Grant Thornton and Deloitte auditors’ reports, which had "raised doubts that it [Guarulhos] could continue as a going concern".

Efforts to gain a response from Mabela through official channels have been unsuccessful, with Acsa’s spokesman saying the company does not comment on board matters and that employment details are confidential.

Morar referred questions back to the department.