Troubled state-owned rail, logistics, port and pipeline company, Transnet, has launched an investigation into allegations of a corrupt syndicate operating at one of its key subsidiaries.
Cosatu affiliate, the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu), has made damning allegations of widespread corruption against key figures at the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA).
According to Satawu, over a dozen contracts worth billions of rand need to be investigated as they were created out of corruption.
”These are the top 17 projects that need to be monitored and investigated thoroughly,” the union stated.
Satawu said it was not against change and development at Transnet, and fully supported any initiatives that aimed to boost South Africa’s economy and create job opportunities and reduce poverty.
”The only thing that Satawu is against is the deliberate breaching of supply chain regulated processes, and violation of the Public Finance Management Act for the purpose of passing through tender transactions to close friends who are disguising (themselves) as Transnet services providers while discriminating (against) other interested companies,” the union added.
It said it was also against bullying, victimising and wrongfully removing employees, because they did not agree to take part in corrupt activities, as well as against the looting of taxpayers’ money under the false pretence of making positive changes at Transnet and in the country.
Satawu has called for immediate suspensions pending special and urgent investigation against a number of executives and senior managers they have identified.
In addition, they are demanding that lifestyle audits and lie-detector tests be conducted against all of them.
The union cited the R650 million hydraulic shore tension unit project, which it said TNPA was advised against for various reasons.
Another project identified by Satawu for investigation is the procurement of 10 jib cranes for R800m, which they allege was awarded to a company that was second in the adjudication process.
This, while the preferred bidder to be awarded the deal, a black-owned company, was declared fake and removed from the list, never to be given tenders from Transnet.
In response to questions from the Sunday Independent, Transnet said it had zero tolerance for corruption and viewed the allegations in a serious light.
”Transnet has instituted an investigation into the matter. Transnet has also called on Satawu to provide any evidence at its disposal which may assist the investigation. Any further action on this matter will be guided by the outcome of the investigation,” the entity said.
Satawu general secretary, Jack Mazibuko, said the union would be meeting Transnet on Tuesday (December 5).
”We are going to push for precautionary suspension of the implicated officials. We are not suggesting they are guilty, but they must be moved while investigations are under way,” he said.
Staff have complained about working in a very hostile environment and being led through threats and fear, and say they are extremely demoralised and demotivated.
According to an anonymous complaint: ”We are led by people who do not have people and management skills (and) who do not know how to work with people… We admit we are not performing at our optimal, because we are not okay.”
The complaint continued: “In conclusion, we are deeply damaged and that is not an exaggeration. We are hopeless as we don’t see the situation changing or anything being done by all that has been reported. We are certain that under some guaranteed protection, many people will be willing to speak up”.
Yesterday (Friday), Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana announced that National Treasury would issue Transnet with a financial support package of R47 billion against which the entity would have access to an initial amount of R22.8bn to deal with immediate liquidity matters, such as settling maturity debt.
Transnet, which posted a R5.7bn loss in 2022/23 and is R135bn in debt, has also been forced to implement a number of urgent interventions to address the backlogs at the Port of Durban and to ease the congestion at Richards Bay, which have crippled the South African economy.
It blames the delays on adverse weather conditions and equipment availability, among others.