Denel directors face subpoenas if SCOPA no-show is repeated

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The non-appearance of the Denel board at this week’s SCOPA (Standing Committee on Public Accounts) meeting was, in typical Parliamentary style, noted and re-scheduled with a notable addition not excluding subpoenas being served for further non-attendance.

The Denel board, chaired by Gloria Serobe, was due to give the SOE (State-owned enterprise) financial oversight committee insight into the “non-tabling” of its annual report and “its liquidity crisis”. Another outstanding matter on the SCOPA agenda for Denel directors, according to Parliamentary Communication Services (PCS), was an update on Special Investigations Unit (SIU) investigations. The newest Denel annual report on the company’s website is for 2020.

The appearance of Denel directors was communicated via a letter to the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) on 23 May. A PCS statement has it an “undated letter from the Denel chair, received last week” indicated she would be out of the country and not available. Serobe’s letter, according to PCS, “committed her (Serobe) to ensuring the board would be represented at today’s (Tuesday, 6 June) meeting”.

That this did not happen was confirmed to the SCOPA meeting by DPE deputy minister Obed Bapela. “The committee could not proceed with the meeting as the board is the accounting authority and the body that should brief the committee. It is a dereliction of duty on the part of the board not to make arrangements to appear before the committee as scheduled.”

The meeting was rescheduled for next Wednesday (14 June). “In the event the [Denel] board does not attend, the committee will ask the Speaker of the National Assembly (Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula) to issue subpoenas to the Denel board on the committee’s behalf,” the statement reads.

Denel’s liquidity crisis was given short shrift by the defence and technology conglomerate’s Chief Restructuring Officer Riaz Saloojee, a former chief executive, in a defenceWeb interview published the same day as the Denel board was scheduled in Parliament.

According to him orders “at the moment are not a problem” and Denel “has enough business and outstanding work to keep it busy for the next two years”. Projects and work Saloojee is bullish on include putting Hoefyster (the new Badger infantry fighting vehicle) “back on track”; A-Darter air-to-air missiles for the SA Air Force (Project Kamas), and the next phase of the ground-based air defence system (GBADS) for the SA Army.