Not minding the urgent court charges against her for dissolving the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters on Monday announced an interim board for the ailing agency.
Making the urgent announcement on Monday morning, the minister said former National Union of Mineworkers secretary general, Frans Baleni, former chief executive at Sanral, Nazir Alli, and former departmental spokesman, Tiyani Rikhotso are some of the members who will serve in the Prasa interim board.
Peters made the announcement a while after former Prasa chairperson Popo Molefe filed an urgent application to the High Court in Johannesburg warning her to reinstate the former board she dissolved last week.
Portfolio Committee on Transport Chairperson Dikeledi Magadzi who confirmed that the board was dissolved told news media that the resolution to launch an inquiry into Prasa was not taken lightly. “After two days of deliberations, the committee still did not have a sense of whether Prasa will be saved. It is important that Prasa works if we are to grow the economy and deliver on the mandate to get poor South Africans to work,” said Magadzi.
“As things are now, there is no sense that the board is in control of anything. It does not seem that there are controls at the entity to ensure good governance in line with legislation. That said, the committee is of the view that the entity could still be saved,” she said.
Reacting to this, Molefe said Dipuo Peters was wrong to dissolve the board which according to him, fought corruption in the organisation. “It’s a pity that it has been dissolved just a few months before its term ends,” he said.
Molefe said before Peter’s announcement, that he believes the court will rule in the board’s favour as Peters’ decision “was not within the confines of the law” despite her reasons.
“It is improper that when the board is left with just a few months, they should be hurriedly removed from office.”
“We think that the action itself in contrary to public interest. It’s in the interest of the public that the good work that we have been doing to root out corruption and the fact that we already have two major cases.”
Other members of Peter’s interim board include Ronny Mkhwanazi and Xolile George who will retain his place on the board as a representative of Salga.
Collins Letsoalo was removed from his position after he had allegedly increased his salary by at least 350 percent to R5.9 million, the same amount that was earned by former chief executive officer Lucky Montana. And, Molefe believes the board is being punished for removing controversial former acting chief executive.
Minister Dipuo Peters, however, said that the national treasury is yet to forward a name for its preferred candidate to serve on the board.