Minister Gordhan Says Suspended DG Tlhakudi Is ‘Clutching At Straws’

Pretoria – The Department of Public Enterprises says it is “seriously concerned” about the conduct and the “recent utterances” of its suspended Director-General (DG) Kgathatso Tlhakudi.

The suspended DG accuses Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan of impropriety. He even did so in a protected disclosure he made to National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

On Thursday the department said it noted in the latest round of television interviews this week that Tlhakudi continued to rehash old allegations, “but still fails to provide any convincing factual evidence”.

In a strongly worded statement, the department said: “Minister Gordhan refutes the baseless claims and allegations by Mr. Tlhakudi that he interfered and handpicked the Takatso Consortium as the preferred bidder to purchase the 51 percent shareholding in South African Airways.”

The department said the suspended director general was unfairly tarnishing its image.

“Rather than allow for due process, Mr. Tlhakudi, has instead opted to impugn the reputation of the department, its staff and by extension its executive political authority, Mr. Pravin Gordhan, the Minister of Public Enterprises,” the department said.

Commenting on the allegations Minister Gordhan said: “These claims are patently false and are emblematic of someone who is refusing to be held accountable, and is instead clutching at straws, and looking for public sympathy through deception and lies”.

“The department will not be deterred from working to stabilise our SOEs, exposing corruption and creating a stable framework through which our SOEs can deliver on their developmental mandate.”

The department said it views Tlhakudi’s conduct and utterances as unbecoming of someone entrusted with safeguarding the public interest and has an obligation to adhere to established norms and standards of conduct.

“Until now, out of respect for the rule of law and due legal process, the DPE has refrained from responding publicly to Mr Tlhakudi, but his conduct has become untenable,” the department said.

The department said it will not allow that the public’s trust be jeopardised by a well-orchestrated campaign to subvert the truth and undermine its work.

“Mr. Tlhakudi, is aware of internal processes that are looking into the misconduct that resulted in his suspension in June 2022 as has been previously announced,” said the department.

“After his suspension, a disciplinary process overseen by the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development was instituted.

“The process is yet to conclude.”