Gi­gaba sti­fles Prasa – Molefe

‘He de­rails smooth run­ning of rail agency’

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - Kabelo Khu­malo

OUT­GO­ING chair­per­son of the em­bat­tled Pas­sen­ger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) Popo Molefe has ac­cused Min­is­ter of Fi­nance Malusi Gi­gaba of be­ing an im­ped­i­ment to good gov­er­nance at the rail agency.

Molefe, whose board’s ten­ure runs out in two weeks, yes­ter­day claimed that Gi­gaba had with­held a Trea­sury nom­i­nee to the Trea­sury’s board and that his po­si­tion as chair­per­son of the board was un­der­mined.

The ANC vet­eran said that Gi­gaba and Trans­port Min­is­ter Joe Maswan­ganyi had sti­fled the board’s ef­forts aimed at in­cul­cat­ing the spirit of good gov­er­nance at the ail­ing rail­ing agency. “Th­ese two min­istries have with­held the two nom­i­nees so that the board, which re­quires six peo­ple to cor­re­late, must not have a quo­rum,” Molefe said.

“The board can­not fi­nalise its work be­cause there is no quo­rum.”

The Trea­sury is not rep­re­sented on the Prasa board af­ter its pre­vi­ous rep­re­sen­ta­tive Lan­don McMil­lan re­signed.

Gi­gaba and Maswan­ganyi were not avail­able for com­ment. How­ever, Maswan­gayi has said new boards for Prasa, the Civil Avi­a­tion Author­ity, the Cross-Bor­der Road Trans­port Agency and the Road Ac­ci­dent Fund would be in­stalled by next month.

Last year, Prasa re­ceived an un­qual­i­fied Au­di­tor-Gen­eral’s re­port af­ter it was found to have lost R13.9 bil­lion in the 2016 fi­nan­cial year due to ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture, a big jump from the R500 mil­lion wastage re­ported in the 2014/15 fi­nan­cial year. Molefe said the board would get the rail agency’s monies back from Swifambo and Siyan­gena con­tracts.

This month, the high court in Jo­han­nes­burg or­dered Swifambo to pay back the R2.6bn it re­ceived from the rail agency for lo­co­mo­tives it had pro­cured from it. The deal pit­ted Molefe and for­mer Prasa chief ex­ec­u­tive Lucky Montana against each other as the for­mer ap­proached the courts in 2015 to set the ten­der aside. How­ever, Prasa’s bid to invalidate con­tracts worth about R4bn awarded to Siyan­gena Tech­nolo­gies failed in May, when the high court in Pre­to­ria dis­missed the rail agency’s ap­pli­ca­tion on a tech­ni­cal­ity.

Prasa’s con­tracts to Siyan­gena were de­clared un­law­ful by the pub­lic pro­tec­tor in her damn­ing re­port ti­tled “De­railed”. This is not the first time Molefe has taken his po­lit­i­cal heads to task over Prasa’s man­age­ment. Ear­lier this year, he was en­gaged in a ti­tanic bat­tle with for­mer min­is­ter Dipuo Peters over senior depart­men­tal of­fi­cial Collin Let­soalo’s sec­ond­ment to Prasa in an act­ing ca­pac­ity af­ter Montana’s sack­ing last year.

Peters then re­lieved the board of its du­ties, ac­cus­ing it of fail­ing to ad­here to good cor­po­rate gov­er­nance. Molefe ac­cused Peters of pro­tect­ing Let­soalo from ac­count­abil­ity af­ter he was ac­cused of hav­ing hiked his an­nual salary by 350% to R5.9m – a de­ci­sion later re­versed by the high court in Pre­to­ria, which re­in­stated Molefe and his board.

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