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‘Prasa board is lying about reasons for my departure’

Former Prasa group CEO Lucky Montana says the board is not telling the truth to the people of SA.

Prasa group CEO Lucky Montana speaks to EWN about new locomotives.Picture: Kgothatso Mogale/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Former Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) group CEO Lucky Montana claims the board is lying by saying that he's being fired for not adhering to certain conditions during his notice period.

Prasa's chair Popo Molefe confirmed on Thursday afternoon that Montana was being released from the organisation with immediate effect and will not stay until the end of November as originally planned.

Montana says the board is not telling the truth to the people of South Africa.

"I've expected this for quite a while. I think for a period of eight months we've been having a running battle with the board and the chairman of the board."

In a statement released earlier today, Prasa said the current COO Nathi Khena will take over as the acting CEO while the board is in the process of finding a suitable replacement.

The locomotive company said its board resolved that Montana would not be required to work the remainder of his notice period, which commenced on 1 June 2015.

MONTANA'S BEHAVIOUR TO BLAME

Molefe says they've decided Montana must leave office now because of the attacks he's made on the board itself and because he hasn't stuck to an agreement to not sign new tenders while serving his notice.

"We considered those conditions, [and the things] he was saying on all those public platforms that there is a breakdown in the relationship between him and the board."

The Prasa chair says if someone was planning on leaving and then said he didn't trust the board there was no point in keeping them.

Earlier, Molefe said the current controversy about a Spanish locomotive tender had nothing to do with Monata's departure.

Prasa's outgoing CEO vigorously defended the Spanish locomotive tender, despite claims the trains were too tall and that Prasa didn't manage the tender properly.

Molefe said this decision by the board has nothing to do with that saga.

"We are satisfied that matters are now under control and that they will reach consensus in the end."

Molefe says Montana had promised not to change Prasa's management structure or sign large tenders without the board's approval.

MONTANA'S REMOVAL WELCOMED

The Transport Department says it accepts and respects the Prasa board's decision to remove Montana from his contract.

The department says the board has assured Transport Minister Dipuo Peters that the entity will remain stable and continue to deliver on its mandate.

The department's Director General Pule Selepe said, "They have assured us that the entity will remain stable going forward. It will be able to deliver on its mandate and we have no reason to doubt their assurance."