“Nowhere to hide at Transnet” as overhaul gains momentum

Former Exxaro CEO, Mxolisi Mgojo Pic: Martin Rhodes.

THERE’S no longer any hiding place at Transnet in the drive to reform the organisation as could be seen from the developments over the past week, according to former Exxaro Resources CEO and Minerals Council president Mxolisi Mgojo.

Those “developments” – which Mgojo declined to elaborate – were the resignations of Transnet CEO Portia Derby and Transnet CFO Nonkululeko Dlamini.

Taking part in a panel discussion on business involvement in key Government state-owned enterprises (SOEs) at the Joburg Indaba mining conference in Sandton, Mgojo said private sector involvement had already brought about major changes with more to come.

“What is critical is that (Transnet) board members have been assigned to each of the corridor workstreams which gives insight at a Transnet board level with a direct view on what is happening on a week-by-week basis.

“So there’s absolutely great accountability. There’s no place to hide here. You will be caught out very, very quickly. I can tell you that right now. I will not say any more, but we have seen what has happened in the last week. It is hot. It is very hot in that space.”

Despite Mgojo’s refusal to elaborate it was clear he was referring to the resignations of Derby and Dlamini with effect from the end of October.

The Minerals Council created a furore in December 2022 when it sent a letter to Transnet chairman Popo Molefe demanding Derby’s resignation as well as that of Transnet Freight Rail CEO Sizakele Mzimela.

Derby was appointed Transnet CEO in February 2020 and has been blamed for the operational mismanagement that caused a collapse in coal export volumes through Richards Bay.

According to the Minerals Council, Transnet mismanagement was responsible for the bulk of the R30bn in lost South African coal export revenues during 2022 with only about 20% of the lost tonnage due to cable theft and electricity disruptions.

The Minerals Council attack on Derby was followed by a demand from the Durban Chamber of Commerce that she step down because she was sabotaging business through lack of service delivery.

Referring to “that famous letter” from the Minerals Council, Mgojo commented: “That letter got spurred action”. At question time, however, he ducked the issue of the future of Mzimela who has kept her position so far.

Mgojo said business had assembled a “very strong, highly experienced, technical team (of people) who had left Transnet but knew the inside and outside of Transnet as the first step in its aims to provide itself with the skills and understanding needed to be able to address the issues at Transnet”.

He commented the business intervention also required considerable “political manoeuvring” to deal with all the various government departments involved.

Summing up Mgojo said “The needle is beginning to turn”.