Gigaba stifles Prasa – Molefe
‘He derails smooth running of rail agency’
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.