SOUTH AFRICA – Portia Derby has been appointed group chief executive of Transnet, the department of public enterprises said.

“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. Cabinet concurred with the appointment at its meeting on [Friday],” said the department.

It described Derby as an “independent and dynamic leader with vast experience in the public and private sectors”.

Derby served as the director-general of the department of public works from 2005 to 2009, has previously acted as COO for the department of trade and industry, and served on various boards, including those of Metair Investments and SA Forestry Company, another state-owned entity (SOE).

“The board believes that Portia brings the insights, experience and competence to lead Transnet. She holds an honours degree in economics from the University of KZN and an MBA from the University of the Witwatersrand,” the statement read.

“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,” the offical statement of the DPE reads.

“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.”

The department said Derby would be responsible for strengthening Transnet, restoring its integrity and reputation and refocusing it on its core mandate.

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

Transnet, the second largest SOE after Eskom, is at the heart of state-capture allegations.

The company said acting CE Mohammed Mahomedy will return to his former role of acting CFO, while Mark Greg-MacDonald will serve as acting group treasurer.

“Portia’s appointment brings certainty to Transnet,” the statement read and “the company will announce new appointments of a number of other executives shortly”.