The Siyabonga Gama merry-go-round
There’ve been no reports of his arrest for trespassing. Maybe Transnet’s axed boss is working from home
Embattled Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama is no stranger to the state-owned entity’s hiring and firing procedures. In 2009 he was suspended from Transnet and fired the next year in relation to the awarding of a security contract to GNS, a company linked to former communications minister Siphiwe Nyanda. It emerged that Gama had earned R10m during this period for "doing nothing".
But Transnet tried to justify the payments, saying the R10m he got while on suspension was for salaries, bonuses and benefits, including money due to Gama from as far back as 2008. A year after his firing in 2010, Gama returned to Transnet after a review of his dismissal.
Seven years later again Gama has stepped onto the merry-go-round as he battles with the current Transnet board to keep his R8.1m-a-year job.
On Sunday the board fired him with six months’ notice, during which he does not have to pitch up at work. His last day at the office was meant to be Monday October 22, when he was expected to return company property, including an iPad, cellphone, laptop and keys to the place.
Defiantly he insists his axing is unlawful and says he’ll continue going to work despite the board trying to get rid of him.
"I … demand that you rescind your purported termination of my employment contract as well as all the utterances you have authorised Mr Edward Kieswetter and Ms Mpho Letlape [board members] to make in the media as they are illegal and in contempt of court," Gama writes in a letter to Transnet board chair Popo Molefe.
"I will continue to report to work as normal and will also seek urgent relief from the court."
His lawyers are drawing up papers to file in the Johannesburg Labour Court in a bid to overturn the dismissal.
Gama did arrive for work on Monday, but whether he returned the company property is another thing — probably not, judging from his letter to Molefe.
Will he continue reporting for work? Transnet’s lawyers have said that if he does he will be trespassing and their client will have every right to call the police.
On Tuesday there were no reports of Gama’s arrest for trespassing. Maybe he has decided it’s best to work from home. For now.