Trade union Solidarity is seeking clarity on Victor Xaba’s role as Acting CEO of SA Express and his role in a controversial fuel deal whilst he was there. Xaba is currently Acting CEO of Denel Aeronautics.
Solidarity on Wednesday said it is demanding an explanation from both the newly appointed chair of the Denel board, Monhla Hlahla, and the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, on the controversial R2.4 billion fuel tender awarded to EML Energy during Xaba’s term as SA Express’s acting CEO.
This comes after two SA Express executives, Sam Vilakazi and Miriam Machoele, signed a deal with EML Energy to supply ailing SA Express with fuel for three years, despite a ten-year contract being in place with South African Airways (SAA) for the supply of fuel. Not a single drop has yet been supplied to the airline by EML Energy, Solidarity said.
According to Solidarity Deputy General Secretary Deon Reyneke, a source confidentially told Solidarity that this unlawful deal was concluded during Xaba’s term of office, while Miriam Machoele responded to recent rumours by contending that she had authorisation from Xaba to sign the deal on behalf of the airline.
“It is alarming that such a major deal, for which tender procedures were not followed at all, could slip past a CEO unnoticed. If Mr Xaba was worth his salt as a CEO, he would have seen to it that the tender process took its lawful course, and the controversial R2.4 billion tender would not have been awarded to an unknown music promoter,” Reyneke said.
Reyneke also said Solidarity was concerned about its members, as well as the future of Denel Aeronautics under the leadership of Xaba. “Solidarity requests Denel to explain why a person who has a hand in incongruous tender procedures is heading a division of Denel, especially given that Denel itself recently suffered under corruption and financial mismanagement which Solidarity disclosed in December 2017,” the trade union said.
“It is imperative that Denel now appoint accountable managers in its ranks to ensure the company’s future, instead of merely moving cadres linked to possible tender irregularities at other state enterprises from one to the other,” Reyneke concluded.
Vuyelwa Qinga, Group Executive: Communication & Public Affairs at Denel, told defenceWeb that “Denel has noted the serious allegations made against Mr Xaba, who is a long-standing member of our senior management team. We have further noted that the newspaper article indicated that there is an investigative process that SA Express has instituted on the matters raised, which we view in a very serious light. At this point we are watching the process closely, and engaging with all relevant parties so that the company can respond in a better formed manner.”