Prasa House in Hatfield, Pretoria. File picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Prasa House in Hatfield, Pretoria. File picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Molefe tells commission of efforts to isolate Prasa's board

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Jun 29, 2020

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Johannesburg - The Zondo commission into State Capture has heard how Prasa's last permanent board was crippled with former transport minister Joe Maswanganyi refusing to fill vacant posts which were supposed to help keep the company functional.

Former Prasa board chairperson Popo Molefe took the stand on Monday to resume his evidence. He had appeared in March and detailed corruption allegations at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).

Molefe had been appointed to chair Prasa's board in 2014. Earlier the commission had heard about tensions between Molefe and former transport minister Dipuo Peters.

The minister had been unhappy with an investigation into the review of contracts irregularly award by former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana. The investigation was led by law firm Werksmans.

Molefe's board and Peters had also clashed over the board's decision to remove former Prasa acting CEO Collins Lestoalo. 

The tension between the minister and board culminated in Peters firing the board in March 2017. Her decision was later overturned by the court.  Following the court decision, Peters was replaced by Maswanganyi following a cabinet reshuffle by former president Jacob Zuma.

Molefe said Maswanganyi continued Peters' move by also focusing his efforts on firing the board. He said the minister wrote to the board following his appointment and asked it to explain why it should not be fired for poor performance.

Molefe said he had approached Maswanganyi to meet with the board and he had also raised concerns that the board had no quorum as various members had resigned. A board without a quorum cannot perform its duty.
 
Molefe said Maswanganyi's lack of interest in filling the vacant posts were meant to isolate him as a board chairperson.
 
"He attempted to weaken the board to make sure that it did not have a quorum. I later found out the directors were lobbied to resign in an attempt to weaken me as chairperson. Some directors did resign and they were not replaced. 

"The nominee from the department of transport stopped attending board meetings. The actions left the board without a quorum. There was a drive to make this board dysfunctional," Molefe said.
 
Molefe said since his board’s departure, Prasa has had no permanent board. The SOE has also had no permanent CEO since Montana left in July 2015.

The commission resumes on Tuesday. 

Political Bureau

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