Natasha Mazzone, the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party shadow public enterprises minister, maintains the dismissal of suspended Denel chief executive Riaz Saloojee is “suspicious and lends credence to the notion that he refused to broker arms deals with the politically connected Gupta family”.
At the time of publication there had been no official response from Denel on the apparent firing of Saloojee, suspended along with chief financial officer Fikile Mhlonto and group company secretary Elizabeth Africa last October by what was then a new Denel board of directors.
Mazzone said it was “widely speculated” the suspension of the three related to the creation of a new company – Denel Asia – and its link to the Guptas.
She wants Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown to “remain resolute” against the establishment of Denel Asia until all conditions set have been met and “the deal is free from political influence”.
“It was recently confirmed that the VR Laser deal with Denel did not have Treasury approval. Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, stated last week the registration of Denel Asia was illegal and contrary to the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). Why then was the deal allowed to proceed?” Mazzone asked.
It appears Saloojee was told late last week his employment contract was being terminated without any evidence or charges being brought against him. He had a five year contract as Denel chief executive which ended in January this year but before being suspended in September last year, he was given confirmation that his contract would be extended.
Earlier this month Brown indicated the investigation into the suspension of the three top officials would be completed by mid-year and that she had not yet had a briefing from the Denel board on the issue.
Denel has not commented on the matter and defenceWeb had not received any feedback on Saloojee’s position by the time of publication.