Bar set high for new Transnet CEO

Monday, February 3, 2020

The Public Enterprises Ministry has expressed confidence that the newly appointed Transnet group Chief Executive, Portia Derby, will be able to turn around the beleaguered parastatal. 

Derby was announced as the new head of the State-owned enterprise (SOE) on 31 January 2020, following former CEO Siyabonga Gama’s departure in October 2018.

In a statement, the ministry said Derby’s appointment came after an extensive and rigorous search headed by the Transnet board.

“The recruitment process was run by the Board of Transnet, which made a recommendation of the preferred candidate to the Public Enterprises Minister, in line with the Memorandum of Incorporation that governs the relationship between the board and the shareholder representative,” said the Ministry in the statement.  

At its 31 January meeting, Cabinet concurred with the appointment.

“Ms Derby is an independent and dynamic leader with vast experience in the public and private sectors,” read the statement.

She is a former Director-General of the Department of Public Enterprises, which has Transnet as one of the SOEs it oversees.

This experience, said the ministry, will stand Derby in good stead in her new assignment. She will work with the board, management team, workers, unions and other stakeholders to rebuild an institution that was severely affected by State capture and large-scale corruption.

“Transnet is one of the central entities in our efforts to revive the economy and simultaneously effect deep and meaningful reforms that will be felt by ordinary citizens and businesses as well.

“The company is critical in making South Africa commercially competitive by providing and maintaining key economic infrastructure through our ports, rail and pipeline networks that facilitate the efficient movement of goods from where they are produced,” said the ministry.

It wished Derby well as she prepares to lead the revival of one of the strategic entities and mainstays of the economy.

“Among other things, she will be responsible for strengthening the company, restoring its integrity and reputation, and refocusing Transnet back to its core mandate.

“Reviving its infrastructure and significantly improving operational efficiencies at the ports and freight systems are some of the immediate priorities,” the ministry said.

It thanked former acting CEO Mohammed Mahomedy and other senior executives, including Mark Gregg-Macdonald and Tau Morwe, for helping to steer the company in difficult times. –