Analysis

Pravin Gordhan, Ivan Pillay & Bob Head

WHEN the contract of the Chief Financial Officers (CFO) of SARS, Trix Coetzee expired on 31 December 2013, then Acting Commissioner of Sars, Ivan Pillay, wrote to the then Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, informing him of her intention to retire but that she would resume some duties from April 2014 on a temporary basis. 

Pillay continues: “Owing to the time required to find a replacement, I hereby recommend that the functions of the CFO be temporarily assigned to Mr Bob Head, who is currently a member of the SARS EXCO. Mr Head is on a three-year contract issued under a three-year work permit……

“I hereby request your approval to appoint Mr Bob Head as the acting CFO from 13 December 2013 for a period not exceeding one year with no change in the current conditions of service…”

The request is signed by the then Deputy Minister of Finance Nhlanhla Nene and Gordhan on 5 December 2013. A year later, in an unrelated incident, Pillay was suspended on 5 December 2014 over rogue unit allegations.

In an interview with an online magazine, www.cfo.co.za, he’s said: “My contract runs until February, but they want me to sign for another year. I am thinking about that at the moment. I’ll eventually go back to the UK, but I want to stay in touch with South Africa through some non-executive roles if I can.”

Fast forward to 2018 and by this time Nene is the finance minister. On Wednesday 11 April 2018, SAA announced Head was appointed as interim chief financial officer, as part of the airline’s turnaround strategy. “Head is a specialist in turning businesses around and resolving business problems, and is also a former chief executive of a number of companies, and finance and group human resources director,” the airline explained. 

Head, was appointed on a six month contract, and was set to earn R5 511 000, about R900 000 a month. The multi-million rand remuneration packages of his and other executives can be accessed https://press-admin.voteda.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/2018-07-11-Letter-to-Minister-SAA-information-request-by-SCOF-002.pdf

At the time the Standing Committee on Finance called Head’s remuneration “excessive” and the Democratic Alliance (DA) said it was “shocked that the financially troubled airline is spending millions of rands on salaries for executives on short-term contracts”. 

Pillay and Gordhan are currently embroiled in a battle to clear their names after Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane found that Gordhan’s approval of Pillay’s early retirement and subsequent rehiring were improper. 

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