Transport Minister Dipuo Peters’ axing of the board of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) has come as no surprise, the Democratic Alliance says.
Peters’ announcement followed a two-day transport portfolio committee meeting with members of parliament, the Prasa board and acting Prasa CEO Collins Letsoalo, whose contract was last week terminated by the board following his secondment from the transport department. The meeting was also attended by transport department officials.
According to DA MP Manny de Freitas, the department’s director-deneral, Mathabatha Mokonyama, delivered a statement on Peters’ behalf, where she echoed the concerns the committee had about the “shambles at Prasa”.
He added: “She then announced that she is dissolving the board with immediate effect, which is her right to do.
“I wasn’t surprised that the board was dissolved, but I was surprised at the speed at which it was done.
“In meetings during presentations to the committee over the last two days it was clear that the root problem was the minister,” he charged.
He said this was because in the case of a secondment, such as that of Letsoalo, a memorandum of understanding between the department and Prasa was commonly done.
“It would explain what his terms of reference are, what his authority is and what his salary would be. None of that was done, and this secondment simply happened, and as a result it was chaos because there wasn’t a proper framework that was laid out.
“In the two days of hearings, we also heard about how the minister continues to interfere all the time in the functioning of Prasa.
“The board members have said they haven’t appointed a board CEO. But what was then revealed was that they had gone through the entire process last year, they had identified someone who was capable to be CEO and the minister stopped the whole process and asked them to start again.
“The minister realises she messed up and is now trying to fix the problem. Her way of doing it was to get rid of the board.”
Letsoalo was axed for allegedly awarding himself a pay hike of 350%.
The department of transport had not commented by the time of going to press.