Mbalula defends Mpondo's appointment at Prasa
Cape Town - Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has defended the appointment of Bonginkosi Mpondo as an administrator at the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) following the dissolution of the interim board.
“It is something that had to be done. It is something done within the prescript of the law,” Mbalula said on Wednesday.
He went to length to explain in detail the process he followed including consulting President Cyril Ramaphosa, the National Treasury and the Cabinet in appointing Mpondo late last year.
Mbalula made the statement when he briefed the transport portfolio committee on the appointment and plans to address challenges at the entity.
The briefing comes at a time the minister is facing a legal challenge from civil society coalition #UniteBehind.
Mbalula said the Auditor-General had issued reports in successive years that were not good about Prasa and that there had been infighting between ministers, the boards and management.
Earlier, Mbalula told the committee how over a period of five years Prasa’s revenue declined by 48%, resulting in its operating deficit reaching R1.8 billion.
The entity’s operational performance had continued to decline with notable stagnation in 2015 and 2016 of its on-time performance, and its safety record plunging to unprecedented levels in 2016.
Mbalula said in less than a year of being at the department, he had taken decisions to fix the ailing entity, including closing the Cape Town central line corridor for refurbishment.
“I am informed by the state of the entity. I am informed by ineptitude. I am informed by rogueness and by the place that has totally collapsed and which I characterised as a broken place,” Mbalula said.
He said the biggest success of Mpondo’s stay at Prasa would be to deal with malfeasance and a lack of corporate governance - which will not be fixed in a year. He also said he wanted Prasa to have “some level of stability within a year”.
“When I look at Mpondo I look at experience. I saw someone with capability, with understanding of the rail network,” he said.
Committee chairperson Mosebenzi Zwane said the bottomless pit at Prasa should come to a stop.