Friday, February 22, 2019
Siyabonga Gama

Siyabonga Gama


IT is perhaps a sign of Transnet’s importance to the South African government that it is deliberating long and hard over whom next will run the transport and logistics utility. Siyabonga Gama hopes it will be him. For now, he’s in the acting role following the redeployment of Brian Molefe to Eskom. For now, the numbers just keep on rolling for high-spending Transnet. Despite the ‘commodities bloodbath’, as Gama described it, Transnet posted a 9% increase in interim profit to R13.9bn – largely helped by the take-or-pay contracts written by its largest division, Transnet Freight Rail (TFR), in which failure by customers to fill its trains with coal or iron ore incurs a compensatory penalty of up to 95% of the tariff. Transnet also unveiled a fresh round of spending that will take total investment since 2012 to half a trillion rands. That’s the implication of the R380bn capex target over the next 10 years. Still, Gama has had to make adjustments for the commodity downturn: export coal volumes to Richards Bay will fall about one million tonnes (mt) to 75mt this year whilst the iron ore export target of 82mt a year may not be reached in the medium term. The expansion of the Waterberg line in the Limpopo province, to accommodate new coal production, has also been pushed out two years.


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 B.Comm from the University of Swaziland and began his working life managing a branch of Standard Bank.