Bag­gage of al­le­ga­tions may be too heavy for Acsa boss

Maseko’s job is on the line as he also faces crim­i­nal probe

Sunday Times - - Business Times - By KYLE COWAN

● The fu­ture of Air­ports Com­pany SA (Acsa) CEO Bon­gani Maseko is hang­ing in the bal­ance as he nears the end of his five-year stint, with no cer­tainty that he will be asked to re­main at the helm for an­other term, while a pos­si­ble crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion looms.

Maseko, whose five-year term ex­pires in two weeks, has for two years weath­ered a storm of al­le­ga­tions over cor­rup­tion and cor­po­rate gov­er­nance breaches, man­ag­ing to cling to his po­si­tion de­spite a de­ter­mined hand­ful of Acsa board mem­bers bay­ing for his blood.

This in­cludes sur­viv­ing a Fe­bru­ary 3 2017 board res­o­lu­tion that he be dis­ci­plined, and at least two foren­sic re­ports re­veal­ing breaches of sup­ply chain pol­icy and Pub­lic Fi­nance Man­age­ment Act reg­u­la­tions.

These re­late to con­tracts worth more than R20-mil­lion awarded to an at­tor­ney, Paul Rana­mane, who was struck off the roll in 2016 and a mar­ket­ing firm, In­cen­tive Driven Mar­ket­ing (IDM), hired to man­age the fall­out as al­le­ga­tions against Maseko be­came pub­lic.

IDM, owned by Do­minic Nt­sele, was ap­pointed by Maseko in Septem­ber 2016 on an emer­gency ba­sis.

Pub­licly, Maseko has main­tained his innocence, say­ing he would wel­come dis­ci­plinary ac­tion so that he could state his case and clear his name.

Mean­while, Busi­ness Times has learned that the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity (NPA) is con­sid­er­ing whether to in­sti­tute charges against Maseko re­lat­ing to al­le­ga­tions made by a group of “con­cerned em­ploy­ees” who have writ­ten nu­mer­ous let­ters to Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa ask­ing for his in­ter­ven­tion.

In a let­ter dated April 5 ad­dressed to the group of em­ploy­ees, known only by the e-mail han­dle they use, “Zinhle Lolo”, the NPA con­firmed a case opened against Maseko at the OR Tambo po­lice sta­tion had been handed to the di­rec­tor of the Com­mer­cial Crimes Unit for a de­ci­sion. Trans­port Min­is­ter Blade Nz­i­mande must now con­sider the reap­point­ment of Maseko while also hav­ing to ap­point a new board. A spokesper­son for Nz­i­mande did not re­spond to ques­tions sent this week.

An Acsa spokesper­son said in re­sponse to ques­tions: “We have not been able to ad­dress all ques­tions raised. Some of these is­sues are at var­i­ous stages of in­ves­ti­ga­tion and/or still re­quire board dis­cus­sion and res­o­lu­tion. It would there­fore be pre­ma­ture for us to deal with such mat­ters at this point in time.”

When asked why the board has failed to act against Maseko de­spite two foren­sic re­ports find­ing pos­si­ble wrong­do­ing, Acsa said: “This mat­ter dates back to 2016 and the board is best placed to re­spond as to why this mat­ter re­mains open.”

The lat­est foren­sic re­port con­ducted by Open Wa­ter Ad­vanced Risk So­lu­tions rec­om­mends among other things that both the board and Maseko be sub­jected to fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Dr Steve Ma­bela, who re­signed from the Acsa board last month, was the only board mem­ber to re­spond to queries.

“Due to po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence, the re­moval of board mem­bers by the deputy min­is­ter of trans­port dur­ing the AGM of 2016, and, in­clud­ing but not lim­ited to, post­pone­ments of the meet­ings time af­ter time,” were rea­sons Ma­bela gave for the ap­par­ent fail­ure by the board to act.

“The ex­ec­u­tive then saw fit (with­out in­form­ing the board) to chal­lenge the court or­der un­der an ur­gent ap­pli­ca­tion dur­ing March 2018. It must be kept in mind that this is be­ing done with tax­pay­ers’ money with­out board ap­proval or res­o­lu­tion. The ques­tion, there­fore, arises as to who granted ap­proval for this ac­tion. No valid rea­sons ex­ist why the board should be de­fend­ing its own res­o­lu­tions in a court of law,” Ma­bela said.

Maseko has for two years weath­ered a storm of cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions

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