Challenges persist at Transnet, the state-owned logistics company, as the resignation of Transnet Freight Rail CEO Sizakele (Siza) Mzimela adds to the recent departure of Transnet Group CEO Portia Derby. This succession of resignations has left the organisation without clear leadership. Derby’s departure is scheduled for the end of October, and CFO Nonkululeko Dlamini has already left to join Telkom.

By Staff Reporter

Transnet freight rail division’s Chief Executive Officer for the past three years, Siza Mzimela, has tendered her resignation, marking the departure of yet another senior executive from the troubled state-owned logistics company.

On Thursday, October 5, Mzimela issued a formal communication to the staff, notifying them of her decision to resign from her position and outlining her intention to continue working at Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) until the end of October. She becomes a part of the executive team alongside CEO Portia Derby and CFO Nonkululeko Dlamini, both of whom have also resigned from Transnet.

Derby is currently serving her notice period and will be leaving at the end of October. On the other hand, Dlamini’s departure was immediate as she had resigned from her position as CFO in early September.

Transnet confirmed the resignation of Mzimela in a statement released on Thursday afternoon. They also mentioned that they are currently in the process of recruiting a new person to fill her position.

Russell Baatjies will assume the role of interim CEO for TFR. Previously, Baatjies served as the managing executive of Transnet’s Cape Corridor, which is responsible for the transportation of manganese exports and agricultural commodities.

In her correspondence, Mzimela expressed her appreciation for the accomplishments of her team throughout her term and urged them to persist in their endeavours, notwithstanding the ongoing operational obstacles encountered by the rail division.

Mzimela characterised the condition of TFR as a challenging and tumultuous environment, expressing her belief that the situation will eventually stabilise, allowing her team to restore normal operations and enable TFR to effectively contribute to South Africa’s economy.

“Despite the seemingly endless litany of legacy challenges, which include lack of tools for peak performance, lack of locomotives, crippling theft and vandalism, as well as the ‘potholes’ in the infrastructure system that force slower movement of trains due to our company’s safety-first ethos, you, the people of TFR continued to push forward,” Mzimela wrote.

She described the current condition of TFR as strenuous, likening it to a “warzone”. However, she expressed optimism that her team will overcome these challenges and restore normal operations, allowing TFR to function at its highest efficiency.

“With solutions to the key impediments mentioned, the current warzone will return to normality and TFR will be fully equipped to truly play its role of circulating the lifeblood of the South African economy.”

Mzimela shared her experiences during her three-year tenure in the rail division and highlighted several achievements. These accomplishments included implementing borderless trains in the Maputo, northeast corridor to enhance efficiency and boost freight capacity, repairing the Durban to Cato Ridge line following extensive flood damage, promoting gender diversity at the executive level, and fostering better regional collaboration.

She identified several obstacles within the organisation, including inadequate resources for optimal performance, insufficient locomotives, and significant issues related to theft and vandalism. However, she expressed her unwavering confidence in the prospects of TFR moving forward.

“You have all taught me the art of resilience and the will to wake up every single day, striving to make a difference. You continued to demonstrate dedication even when the odds were against you,” she said.

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