Transnet in Leadership Upheaval as Key Executives Resign

Transnet in Leadership Upheaval as Key Executives Resign

September 30, 2023

Transnet grapples with leadership challenges following the resignations of CEO Portia Derby and CFO Nonkululeko Dlamini, amplifying concerns over the institution’s stability. Derby, who served as CEO for three years, intends to stay with Transnet until the end of October after submitting her resignation on 29 September. This exit pushes Transnet alongside other vital state entities, including Eskom, awaiting new leadership.

Simultaneously, CFO Dlamini has confirmed her departure to assume the CFO position at Telkom. Michelle Phillips, at the helm of Transnet Pipelines, will step in as acting CEO, with Hlengiwe Makhathini as the interim CFO. Both Derby and Dlamini will be part of the handover procedures.

According to the Daily Maverick, their exit is shadowed by mounting criticism, especially from stakeholders like the Minerals Council South Africa, which accounts for 80% of the mining sector. Their concerns are largely rooted in the inability to upgrade Transnet’s pivotal rail and port operations. A significant setback was in 2022 when exports through the Richards Bay Coal Terminal reached a 30-year low of 50 million tonnes, mainly attributed to issues within TFR.

In January 2023 it was reported that the Minerals Council believed a change of leadership was necessary to effect corrective action in the SOE.

Transnet’s rail activities have experienced a decline, witnessing a 13.6% drop in recent volumes. In a dramatic financial shift, the firm, which previously profited, reported a significant loss of R5.7-billion for the year ending March 2023 and is weighed down by a soaring debt of R130.1-billion.

Peter Attard Montalto of Krutham underscored the profound challenges Transnet faces and the skepticism surrounding its quick rebound. As uncertainties persist, Transnet’s pivotal role in South Africa’s economic sphere hangs in the balance.

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