Business Maverick


Siza Mzimela moves from SA Express to take on an executive role at Transnet  

Siza Mzimela CEO SA Express on July 20, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Veli Nhlapo)

Siza Mzimela’s appointment at Transnet follows the announcement by SA Express on 30 March that she had resigned as the state-owned airline’s acting CEO to ‘pursue other opportunities’. It now appears she was considering a top job at Transnet. 

Days after her surprise resignation from SA Express as acting CEO was announced, Siza Mzimela has now been appointed as an executive at Transnet, which forms part of sweeping changes to the leadership structure of the state-owned port and freight rail operator. 

In an internal memo to staff obtained by Business Maverick on Wednesday, 1 April 2020, Transnet said it had appointed Mzimela as the chief executive of Transnet Freight Rail, which is the largest division of the company.

In the division, Mzimela will be managing Transnet’s rail network and infrastructure across SA that connects with other rail networks in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Mzimela’s appointment, which is yet to be announced by Transnet, is effective from 1 April 2020. In the memo, Mzimela is credited for having “extensive experience in running complex logistical entities”, which “will see her lead and direct the delivery of reliable freight transport and handling services to satisfy customer demands”.

“As incoming CE [chief executive], Siza will ensure the reliability of our freight system through competitiveness and on-time scheduling to lead the growth and development of Transnet’s largest operations,” the memo reads. 

Transnet has confirmed the appointment of Mzimela and several other executive appointments it has made.

Mzimela’s appointment at Transnet follows the announcement by SA Express on 30 March 2020 that she resigned as the state-owned airline’s acting CEO to “pursue other opportunities”. It now appears she was considering a top job at Transnet. 

Mzimela, who was appointed in August 2018 to restructure and clean up the airline, which was at the centre of SA’s State Capture story, becomes the fourth CEO to resign in about three years. 

Mzimela’s resignation could not have come at a worse time for SA Express as it is on the verge of liquidation because its business rescue practitioners have given up on restructuring the airline. SA Express has completely run out of cash and has not been able to pay March salaries. 

Arguably, Mzimela’s appointment at Transnet (a port and freight rail operator), might come into question because her experience is mostly in the aviation industry. In 2010, Mzimela was the CEO of South African Airways. She was also a founding member and CEO of Fly Blue Crane, a regional airline that was launched in 2015 and ceased operating in 2017 after being placed under business rescue. 

Mzimela’s appointment at Transnet is part of sweeping changes at an executive level. Transnet has appointed Vuledzani Nemukula as a chief procurement officer, Pandelani Munyai (chief information officer) and Mark Gregg-Macdonald (group executive in business services). 

Portia Derby, Transnet’s group CEO, said in the memo that the appointments are “essential to the stability of our operations”. 

“This announcement comes at a critical time in Transnet’s development. As a key stakeholder of the South African economy and the rest of the continent, we have to ensure that all our business operations are working in unison, to deliver on the promises to our customers, employees and even ourselves. 

“A capable and inspiring leadership team is essential if we are to deliver on that mandate,” said Derby. “I have no doubt that our new executives will ensure that happens”. BM