Prasa board chairman Popo Molefe and ANC MP Dr Makhosi Khoza at #FutureOfSA conference in Johannesburg. Picture: ANA

Johannesburg - Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) board chairman Popo Molefe on Tuesday accused Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba of withholding a Treasury nominee to his board and stifling corporate governance at the state enterprise. 

Molefe, who was reinstated as board chairman following a court challenge, claimed it was clear that attempts were being made to isolate him immediately after the appointment of Gigaba and new Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi.

''They called non executive directors one by one so that I remain alone, because when I am alone, there will be no board to take decisions. Now there is four of us, we are supposed to be six and include the nominee from Treasury and another from the Department of Transport,'' Molefe told the delegates. 

''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 he was ''surprised'' by Gigaba's statement on good governance last week when the minister announced his 14-point plan to save the country's ailing economy.

''I listened to him speaking at the JSE saying that he wanted good, efficient state entities and good governance..while he is withholding a nominee who should be on the board of Prasa to do its work. The board cannot finalise its work because there is no quorum,'' he said as delegates applauded. 

Molefe was speaking at the Conference for the Future of SA organised by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation and Save SA to come up with a plan to stop state capture. He said when he arrived at Prasa, he realised that former chief executive Lucky Montana ''had enormous power.'' ''I sat him down and told him you're a bright nice young man, but I think you have made mistakes. You seemed to have worked with people who never showed you your errors, I want you and I to work differently now, I don't want us to delve into the past but work together going forward.'' 

The board, he said, has a duty to protect taxpayers' money and has, through court challenges, planned to recover cash from service providers who supplied Prasa with the wrong locomotives which were too tall for the country's rail system, procured from Spain under Montana's watch. 

''We have sent letters of demand to Swifambo, which has told us it has no money and was being wound up, but we know that Swifambo was a front...we will get that money from the Spanish.'' 

Molefe has argued that the locomotives tender was unlawful and has since approached the high court to have the R3.5 billion tender reviewed and cancelled. 

The tender was awarded to Swifambo Rail Leasing in 2013 to supply Prasa with locomotives. The locomotives were made by Vossloh Espana, a Spanish company.  

In a report titled 'Derailed' released in 2015, former public protector Thuli Madonsela found that Prasa failed to comply with its own supply-chain policy. She found widespread maladministration and impropriety in the awarding of contracts worth R2 billion. Montana was fired following the damning Madonsela report.