Portia Derby appointed as Transnet CEO

Newly appointed Transnet CEO Portia Derby. Photo: Supplied

Portia Derby: Brian Molefe’s ex-wife up for Transnet top job

Portia Derby is understood to have the backing of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. Here’s what you need to know about her.

Portia Derby appointed as Transnet CEO

Newly appointed Transnet CEO Portia Derby. Photo: Supplied

The race to appoint a chief executive at Transnet has sped up to include Portia Derby, the former wife of Brian Molefe, who himself was once the head of the state utility. 

According to the Sunday Times, Derby has been identified as one of the lead candidates for the top post which could see her take the helm of the second-largest public enterprise after Eskom. 

Weekend reports state that the 48-year-old co-founder and CEO of Ubu Investment Holdings is practically a shoo-in after she opted to attend an interview in 2019, along with other candidates which include Patrick Dlamini, who is the Development Bank of Southern Africa boss.

Derby one of three candidates

Derby is said to be among three candidates that Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan will present to Cabinet at a meeting for their approval.

However, City Press reports that Development Bank of Southern Africa CEO Patrick Dlamini has the support of Transnet chairperson Popo Molefe.

Gordhan, who is currently under fire for his handling of Eskom and other state companies, is said to have insisted that Derby be included in the list of preferred candidates which is set to go before the board for approval with Parliament having the final say on the appointment. 

Derby, Molefe and Guptas

While Derby was married to Molefe at one point, she did not agree on the influential and powerful role the Guptas played in Transnet and at Eskom. The wealthy family was awarded contracts worth billions, barely providing any services to the parastatals.

Derby eventually fell out with Molefe, as the former MP became cosy with the Guptas. Molefe stepped down from his Eskom post in 2017 and is the subject of a criminal investigation, along with several executives who aided in awarding lucrative contracts to the Guptas. 

Stellar qualifications

According to the website Thenation, Derby has stellar qualifications as she served as the director-general of the Department of Public Enterprises from 2005 until 2009. She also acted as CEO of the Department of Trade and Industry. 

Her past roles also include:

  • CEO of Trade and Investment South Africa;and
  • General Director of the Department of Public Enterprises 

She serves on the board of Metair Investments Ltd and UBANK. 

Derby holds a BSc honours degree in economics from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Wits.