June 18, 2018 / 1:34 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-South Africa's struggling state arms firm Denel suspends CFO

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JOHANNESBURG, June 18 (Reuters) - South African state-owned weapons manufacturer Denel, which has been struggling to pay salaries, has suspended its chief financial officer Odwa Mhlwana while it conducts a probe into allegations of misconduct by him.

Reforming troubled state-owned entities such as Denel is a top priority for President Cyril Ramaphosa as he strives to put the sluggish economy back on a sustained growth trajectory.

Ramaphosa oversaw the appointment of a new board at Denel, which produces military kit including armoured vehicles for the South African army and foreign forces, in April in an effort to put the company on a firmer financial footing.

Denel was embroiled in corruption scandals involving friends of former president Jacob Zuma, the Gupta brothers, and has been grappling with a liquidity crisis which meant it struggled to pay wages in December.

Zuma and the Guptas have denied wrongdoing but their relationship will be the focus of a government corruption inquiry due to start in August.

Denel said in a statement on Monday that CFO Mhlwana would be on “special leave” until a disciplinary investigation into the allegations against him was complete.

“The Denel Board has been approached by various whistle-blowers presenting a number of allegations of serious misconduct against Mr Mhlwana and a few other senior employees of Denel,” the statement read.

Mhlwana did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. (Reporting by Alexander Winning Editing by James Macharia)

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