Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi Picture: Bongani Shilubane
Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi is under pressure to appoint a board of directors for the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa).

This, as concerns have been raised about the awarding of a multi-million contract without a public tender by the rail agency at a time it did not have a board of directors.

It was reported earlier this month that Prasa entered into a R57 billion deal with a Chinese bank for the construction of the Moloto Rail Development Corridor without a public tender or approval from the National Treasury - sparking an outcry.

On Tuesday, the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) was the latest organisation to make calls for the appointment of the board after the term of office of the previous board, which had five remaining members, expired in July.

Fedusa general secretary Dennis George called on Maswanganyi to appoint a board for the Prasa as a matter of urgency.

“Prasa has been without a board since July when the term of the previous board under the chairmanship of former North West premier Popo Molefe came to an end.

“To compound matters, most of executive management positions including that of the group chief executive of Prasa are all currently held by managers in an acting capacity,” George said.

Similar calls were last week by the DA, which wrote to Maswanganyi requesting assurances of a moratorium on all contracts until a new board was appointed.

The DA’s Manny de Freitas said the agreement between Prasa and the Chinese bank was another example of the culture of impunity that has seeped into every corner of the state-owned entity.

“The rule book has been thrown out of the window to allow corrupt individuals to raid the public purse and enrich themselves at the expense of the poor,” De Freitas said.

“While the minister has evidently shown that Prasa is not on his priority list, enough is enough. He must establish a board, within 10 days, as an essential first step towards restoring transparency and accountability at the parastatal,” he said.

But, Maswanganyi said acting chief executive Lindikhaya Zide had assumed the responsibility of the accounting authority of Prasa as an interim measure until the appointment of the new board was finalised. Responding to a parliamentary question from the DA’s Tim Brauteseth, Maswanganyi said the Public Finance Management Act provided for the chief executive of a public entity to also assume the role of the board.

An advertisement calling for nomination of persons to serve on the board was published February, he said. “Members of the public responded positively and a number of nominations were received,” he said about the appointment of the new board. “The department is in the shortlisting process."

Political Bureau