22 February 2024 | 05:09 PM

The case against Tshelane

Key Takeaways

The chief executive of the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa), Phumzile Tshelane, allegedly sanctioned a R150000 payment from the state-owned nuclear company towards the ANC’s 103rd birthday celebrations in Cape Town in January – and then sought board approval afterwards.

According to the board’s January 28 letter to Tshelane informing him of the grounds for his suspension, this is not the first time he has diverted funds to the governing party without permission.

He also approved a R76?000 payment for a Necsa table at the ANC’s gala dinner following the launch of the party’s election manifesto in Nelspruit in January 2014, and approved a board appearance fee for Necsa chair Mochubela Seekoe for sitting at the table.

The letter states that the board is proceeding against Tshelane following a “directive” from Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson.

Earlier correspondence between Joemat-Pettersson and the board shows that, as early as October last year, the minister was aware of a wide range of other allegations made against Tshelane, including:

• Using a company luxury car and driver for private purposes; and

• Approving remuneration for Seekoe’s board appearances in 2013-2014, which was approximately three times that received by the next highest-paid board member, and R452?480 more than the stipulated guideline.

A board member has also brought a court application that seeks to reverse the appointment of four group executives who Tshelane played a key role in appointing, allegedly without full board approval.

Necsa, responding on behalf of Tshelane and Seekoe this week, said: “Like other companies and state-owned enterprises, participation in such meetings [of the ANC] allows for unique high-level networking with decision-makers.”

It also said:

• “All executive appointments were properly concluded with all the required checks, approved by the board, and are valid; and

• All the other allegations are unfounded.”

A dossier of other allegations compiled by Necsa employees claims that the company’s financial position has nose-dived from an R18-million cash surplus at the end of the 2013-2014 financial year to a projected shortfall of R62-million as of this month.

“This will have a serious impact on Necsa honouring its obligations to the nuclear regulator, employees and creditors,” the dossier states.

Necsa declined to confirm or deny these figures, but said “no such scenario has occurred or been envisaged”. ­– Lionel Faull

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The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane) produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for our stories, activities and funding sources.

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Before joining the amaBhungane team in 2017, Micah was the national coordinator for media freedom and diversity at the Right2Know Campaign. He holds a Masters in African Studies from Oxford University and a BA Honours in History from Wits University.

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