Leg­is­la­tors ques­tion Prasa in­terim board

The Star Late Edition - - NEWS - Ka­belo Khumalo

THE IN­TERIM board of the em­bat­tled Pas­sen­ger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) last Wed­nes­day took flak from leg­is­la­tors af­ter its board and man­age­ment failed to ap­pear be­fore the trans­port port­fo­lio com­mit­tee to an­swer ques­tions on state cap­ture al­le­ga­tions.

In­stead, it was left to Trans­port Min­is­ter Joe Maswan­ganyi and the de­part­ment’s di­rec­tor-gen­eral to field ques­tions.

ANC Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment Leonard Ra­mat­lakane said yes­ter­day that the com­mit­tee needed to have a dis­cus­sion with the board, be­cause it had to give an ac­count of what was hap­pen­ing at the agency.

“The min­is­ter is not a func­tionary. It is the board who must an­swer the ques­tions. Ap­point­ment of var­i­ous ser­vice providers cur­rently is a chal­lenge. Who ap­pointed th­ese; were th­ese ap­point­ments le­gal; did they fol­low le­gal pro­ce­dures; and is there money to pay for th­ese?” Ra­mat­lakane asked.

“We need to have fur­ther meet­ings with the board. They must ac­count; they in­her­ited the mess. They need to tell us how they will clean up this mess,” Ra­mat­lakane said.

His views were sup­ported by Ter­ence Mpanza, who said that this was not a good start for the Prasa board and it was dis­ap­point­ing that not a sin­gle per­son from Prasa man­age­ment was present.

The board, to­gether with Maswan­ganyi, was sup­posed to among oth­ers tell Par­lia­ment why the rail agency had not been able to fi­nalise its fi­nan­cial state­ments for the year.

They were also ex­pected to be quizzed by leg­is­la­tors on state cap­ture al­le­ga­tions at Prasa, which in­clude the Gupta fam­ily’s al­leged in­volve­ment in an R51 bil­lion ten­der for trains.

The cab­i­net last month ap­proved the ap­point­ment of an in­terim board for Prasa. The board is made up of Tintswalo Makhubele, who serves as chair­per­son, while Natalie Skeep­ers, John Maluleke and Magde­lene Reddy were ap­pointed board mem­bers. The cab­i­net said that it ex­pects Maswan­ganyi to name the full board within the next six months.

In July, for­mer Prasa chair­per­son Popo Molefe lashed out at Maswan­ganyi, ac­cus­ing him of prej­u­dic­ing the board’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion fol­low­ing for­mer Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela’s “Derailed” re­port.

Those fin­gered were fore­most the now for­mer Prasa chief ex­ec­u­tive Lucky Mon­tana, board mem­bers who were con­flicted, and se­nior Prasa of­fi­cials in­volved in the award­ing of tenders.

How­ever, Maswan­ganyi yes­ter­day said the min­istry was work­ing closely with the of­fice of the au­di­tor-gen­eral and Na­tional Trea­sury in fix­ing prob­lems high­lighted in the pub­lic pro­tec­tor’s re­port.

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