Durban – Fired, reinstated and promoted! The intrigue around Siyabanga Gama’s appointment as Transnet’s group chief executive continued at the State Capture Commission of Inquiry on Thursday.
The commission heard from Christopher Todd, a labour lawyer from Bowman Gilfillian Attorneys, a legal firm that provided legal services to Transnet, that labour laws were flouted to bring Gama back to the parastatal that had fired him on three serious charges of misconduct.
Todd said after a disciplinary committee recommended he be fired, and was carried out by Transnet, Gama took the matter to arbitration.
He said he found the conduct of the arbitrator illogical as Transnet was ordered to reinstate Gama and pay his legal fees.
“Transnet abandoned half of its yard and then decided to give in to what Mr Gama was seeking in the arbitration. So, that’s the first point about retrospective reinstatement…
“In the bargaining council arbitration, it is most unusual for a bargaining council to award costs,” Todd told the commission, adding Transnet even reversed an order granted by a high court in its favour regarding the legal costs.
Todd added if costs were awarded, they were “extremely limited”, but in the case of Gama against Transnet, the SOE’s board agreed to pay 75% of his legal costs.
Gama was fired in 2010 for flouting procurement policies where at some point he signed an R18m security contract with GNS, a security company owned by former minister, General Siphiwe Nyanda.
He was also found guilty for defying the SOEs board by outsourcing the assembling of locomotives worth R800m when he had been instructed to do so internally.
Upon hearing that evidence, Zondo wondered how all this happened and said he hoped that, on Friday, Mafika Mkhwanazi, the former board chairperson of Transnet, would explain this to the commission.
Zondo’s dismay was sparked by that Gama allegedly told Mkhwanazi that he did not only want to be brought back, but be promoted to group CEO.
“You (Todd) mentioned earlier that it looked like there was some power somewhere, in terms of bargaining (by Gama),” Zondo said.
Todd’s testimony continues.