Sunday, December 17, 2017
Siyabonga Gama

Siyabonga Gama


SIYABONGA Gama, who was eventually appointed CEO of Transnet after serving as its interim CEO for a year, hasn’t found the role an easy one to bear. Likening the correction in metal prices to the global financial crisis of 2008, Gama presided over the write-down of R700m in lost business and the rescheduling of R600m in its debtors’ book. It also cautiously renegotiated covenants over some R30bn in debt lest the market deteriorate further. South Africa’s economic growth is forecast to be a meagre 1.2% in 2017 which will support Gama’s forecast that deployment of its R300bn plus infrastructure upliftment scheme – Market Demand Strategy - will take 10 years instead of seven. Yet the commodity market has improved which Gama described as a “green shoots” moment. There’s even the possibility of accelerating some R5bn in rail infrastructure development that would help increase coal freight from the Limpopo province from its six million tonnes (mt) to – eventually – 27mt a year. Coal deliveries to Richards Bay will be about a million tonnes higher in Transnet’s 2017 financial year, but iron ore will be two million tonnes less. Meanwhile, Gama is to sanction legal action against Futuregrowth Asset Management after it declared it would freeze investment in state-owned companies over corporate governance concerns. Transnet said it would sue the asset management company, but the whiff of malfeasance lingers strong in the nostrils.


Gama was managing the trains of Transnet when it was still called Spoornet and is therefore the executive committee’s longest serving member. He even survived a nasty suspension after awarding a R18m tender to a company in which then communications minister, Siphiwe Nyanda, had a stake. He has a BCom from the University of Swaziland and began his working life managing a branch of Standard Bank.

“We are revising MDS so it is on steroids.”