Transnet has declined to comment on the appointment of a new group CEO  after conflicting reports at the weekend that Portia Derby, former wife of one-time Transnet CEO Brian Molefe, is in line for the top job.

The Sunday Times reported that the Transnet board, chaired by Popo Molefe, has endorsed the appointment of Derby. However, City Press reported that the Transnet board’s preferred candidate was Patrick Dlamini, current CEO of the Development Bank of Southern Africa, but that Derby’s name was thrown in the ring after the initial interviews and at the insistence of public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan.

Transnet is the largest of SA’s state-owned enterprises after Eskom. Both of them have been attempting to eradicate corruption and maladministration. Six months after the interviews were conducted, a permanent CEO has yet to be appointed at Transnet.

Derby was formerly married to Brian Molefe, who was also once the CEO of Eskom and stands accused of awarding hundreds of millions worth of contracts to favour Gupta-linked companies during his tenure at both state-owned enterprises.

But according to an insider quoted by the Sunday Times, Derby’s association with Molefe had been taken into account before she was recommended for the job. In fact, the two had reportedly fallen out over Molefe’s association with the Gupta family, which is at the centre of state-capture allegations.

In a response to Business Day, Transnet said it received a number of media queries on the announcement of the new CEO and other outstanding executive appointments but would not comment on the appointment “as the process is to be finalised with the shareholder minister”.

In response to the City Press report, Gordhan said claims of his interference were simply attempts to disrupt the process of appointing a CEO with the required skills to continue rooting out corruption and state capture at Transnet.

Gordhan said the board had followed due process in its recruitment search and recommended its preferred candidate for his consideration, and he was still taking it through government’s processes.

Gordhan noted that the minister may approve, disapprove or express an opinion on the shortlist.


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