FORMER Denel chief executive Zwelakhe Ntshepe on Wednesday denied undermining executives at the state-owned aerospace and military technology company’s subsidiaries when he approved the awarding of a contract to Gupta-owned VR Laser.
Ntshepe told the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture that he overruled Denel’s former group supply chain management executive Mandla Mlambo because the work that needed to be done was urgent.
”What was urgent for me was for the work to be done. I did not undermine him, it was in the best interests of the company to be able to do the work on time,” he said.
Mlambo had raised concerns about the multi-million rand contract was to be awarded to VR Laser when Denel’s wholly and partly owned subsidiaries LMT Holdings and Denel Vehicle Systems (DVS) had not indicated that they were unable to service the contract.
Instead, a single supplier contract between DVS and VR Laser was signed and approved by then Denel chief executive Riaz Saloojee.
According to Ntshepe, he believed that he needed to expedite the work of Denel and breached the company’s supply chain management policies.
He maintained that he needed to ensure that the vehicle to demonstrate VR Laser ability to deliver was ready.
Ntshepe said the matter was urgent and that he could not tell the board that Mlambo delayed the process.
”In my view, I complied with the law. I might have not complied with Mlambo,” he said.
Evidence leader Paul Kennedy SC asked Ntshepe why he undermined former Denel Land Systems supply chain management executive Celia Malahlela, who queried the awarding of the single supplier deal with VR Laser.
”In my tenure at Denel, I ensured that everyone had the ability to do their work without fear or favour. She never came to me and said she was being undermined,” he insisted.
Ntshepe continued: “I had no reason to believe that there was breach of policy”.
He said Saloojee would not have approved the deal if there was a breach of policy and that in his view he applied his mind when he signed the memorandum of agreement.
The commission continues. | Political Bureau