My presence was not welcome, former Transnet treasurer tells Zondo
Bidders had the same BEE partners, which were red flags, Mathane Makgatho testifies
The role of Transnet’s treasury division was “highly diluted” when the state-owned company was negotiating its controversial procurement of 1,064 locomotives in 2014.
Testifying at the state capture inquiry on Thursday, former Transnet group treasurer Mathane Makgatho said she felt her presence was not welcome at meetings to discuss the financial aspects of various entities which submitted bids for the multibillion-rand deal.
She recalled that when the bids were received, a colleague told her that then Transnet CFO Anoj Singh had ordered that she not be allowed into Transnet’s data centre, where the bids are evaluated. Singh is implicated in state capture.
“I didn’t understand why for such a big and risky procurement event an instruction would be given that I should not enter the data room. I politely told him [the colleague] that I would assume that I did not hear what he told me and I spent the entire week at the data room,” she said.
While there, she found irregularities with some of the prospective contractors.
“As I was moving from one bidder to the next, I realised some commonality in two or three of the bidders ... There was something similar, similar from a BEE perspective. It was a red flag for me.
“There was a name in the BEE section that I saw in this bid and that bid. It was the same BEE partners across the board. Ordinarily each and every bidder would have a different BEE party,” she said.
During the subsequent contract negotiation process, she said that “the role of [Transnet] treasury became highly diluted”.
“I would have wanted four members of the treasury to be part of the contract negotiation team. I realised, in actual fact, my presence was not welcome … The environment was such that it was not conducive for me. There were some meetings that would happen and I was not invited, she said.