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Parly committee calls on transport ministry to look into Prasa

Tuesday's briefing has largely centered around the relationship between Collins Letsoalo and the Prasa board.

FILE: Prasa's head office next to Park Station at Umjantshi House on Wolmarans Street, Braamfontein. Picture: Google Earth.

CAPE TOWN - The transport portfolio committee wants the ministry to look into the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) board.

The rail agency and the Transport Department were supposed to brief the committee on the status of Metrorail on Tuesday.

Instead, its time was spent on the controversy surrounding former acting CEO Collins Letsoalo’s salary demands and his eventual removal by the board.

The briefing has largely centered around the relationship between Letsoalo and the Prasa board.

Letsoalo says the board lied about him demanding an increase, while board members have denied this, saying the former acting CEO knew his new position didn’t come with a salary hike.

Members of Parliament took turns to express their dissatisfaction about the board; some called for an inquiry and others called for the board to be dissolved.

Committee chair Dikeledi Magadzi says she will be writing to transport minister Dipuo Peters.

“Definitely we're going to write a letter to the minister to say this board is short-circuiting her. The whole of last year, the whole of 2015, it was Lucky Montana, then it derailed from the Public Prosecutor, then the other acting CEO was removed. Now it’s the CFO of the department who was seconded to Prasa. Six weeks down the line they want to remove him. What for? Because he was going to make a difference."

Magadzi says President Jacob Zuma will be copied into this correspondence.

COMMITTEE DEMANDS ANSWERS

Parliament's transport portfolio committee is demanding concrete answers from board members of Prasa.

Prasa board members have admitted to the transport committee there was no legally binding contract between the rail agency and Peters to appoint Letsoalo.

The transport department's director-general Mathabatha Mokonyama says Peters received a legal opinion to say a signed contract was not needed as a secondment consent form had been signed.

Board member Tefetso Phitsane told MPs the board had approached Peters for help when it became concerned about Letsoalo.

“We can’t have a group CEO that doesn’t listen to us or talk to us. From the start, it did not work; whether it was an issue of attitude or what – but from the start we could not see eye-to-eye in terms of how to move forward.”

Phitsane says Peters did not help the board, nor did she respond to letters saying it intended to remove Letsoalo.

“We feel the minister is harsher to us than anybody else, contrary to what you believe, we feel she is harsh to us. We tried to get the minister to assist and there was never that type of intervention.”

Mokonyama told the committee neither he nor the minister were informed of the board's decision to remove Letsoalo.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)