The Limpopo legislature’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts heard on Thursday how maladministration was crippling the provincial airport company.

The committee summoned Transport MEC Nandi Ndalane and Gateway Airport Authority Limited (GAAL), a company which runs the affairs of the Polokwane airport, to explain discrepancies relating to the airport that were picked up during an audit.

Committee members expressed concern that the government was continuing to fund a project that could not sustain its self.

The ANC’s Rudolph Phala said the airports company should explain why it couldn’t make a profit, and continued to depend on grants.

Phala said it was not justifiable for a parastatal that couldn’t make a profit to continue to waste money, without taking any action being taken against officials.

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It emerged during the hearing that gross misconduct charges against former GAAL CEO Thulani Zulu had been dropped.

Zulu was on suspension when Ndalane dropped the charges against him.

Ndalane and her head of department failed to convince the standing committee as to why charges against Zulu were not pursued.

Transport department head Hanli Du Plessis admitted that GAAL was facing problems and that the department had failed to show leadership.

R11m loss

Du Plessis told the committee that the company had not made any profit over the past two decades.

She said provincial executive committee members had ordered that a public/private partnership should be considered to generate revenue.

According to Du Plessis, the process was underway to call interested parties to make bids, if the partnership was a solution.

Committee members expressed anger that, after the company suffered a R11m loss, Ndalane and Du Plessis had allowed it to operate for six months without a board.

As a result, the company had no CEO and there was no board to run its operations.

Zulu’s contract ended last month, but Ndalane and Mahada failed to advertise the post.

Acting board chairperson Samson Mahada said the board was new and appointments were only made last week.

The standing committee believes that Ndalane and her officials allowed the maladministration.

Committee chair Snowy Kennedy warned that the manner in which GAAL and Zulu had parted ways was not acceptable, as the Public Finance Management Act had been violated.

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