Neels Blom Writer at large
Blade Nzimande. Picture: SUPPLIED
Blade Nzimande. Picture: SUPPLIED

The resignation of two directors from the board of Airports Company SA (Acsa) over corporate governance issues and political interference brings into question Transport Minister Blade Nzimande’s public declarations about malfeasance at state-owned enterprises.

The two nonexecutive directors, Siyakhula Simelane and Steven Mabela, constituted the audit and risk committee of the board. Their resignations mean that the board now consists of only two members, executive director and CEO Bongani Maseko and acting nonexecutive chairman Deon Botha. It means also that the board has been rendered ineffectual. Acsa’s memorandum of incorporation requires a nonexecutive majority on the board.

The directors’ resignations come after a Radio 702 interview with Nzimande as representative of the state, which is a 74.6% shareholder of Acsa.

The Public Investment Corporation owns 20% of Acsa, and the balance is owned by black economic empowerment entities, including African Harvest.

During the interview, Nzimande said he appointed Botha acting chairman and had Botha stop a special board meeting at which the suspension of Maseko and other personnel would have been discussed.

The board was notified of the minister’s orders on April 17, though Botha’s letter of appointment was dated April 13.

Simelane and Mabela said these actions constituted political overreach. They also objected to an inference by Nzimande on the radio show that they were linked to the Gupta family. The meeting would have gone to the crux of the governance issues at Acsa.

Nzimande’s office has refused to comment despite repeated requests. Acsa had not commented through its official channel and referred all board matters to the department.

blomn@businesslive.co.za

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