Minister dissolves Prasa board amid reports of infighting

A letter from Minister Dipuo Peters has been read out to the transport portfolio in which she states she's dissolving the Prasa board.

The Chairman of the Prasa Board, Popo Molefe, on the Public Protector report on 3 September 2015. Picture: Gia Nicolaides/EWN.

CAPE TOWN – Transport Minister Dipuo Peters has dissolved the board of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).

Members of the board and the Transport Department have been briefing Parliament's transport portfolio committee for the past two days.

Most of the briefing has revolved around in-fighting and questions about irregularities within the board and Members of Parliament (MPs) have called for an inquiry into board members.

The department’s director-general Mathabatha Mokonyama has read a letter from Minister Dipuo Peters in which she states she's dissolving the Prasa board.

Peters writes she will implement interim measures which will be announced soon.

“The minister, in her final determination of this, has made careful consideration of numerous correspondence with the board. We, therefore, announce as follows: the immediate dissolution of the board in its current state.”

The letter also informs the committee that the minister did not attend the briefing on Monday as per doctor's orders.

“The position on the acting CEO remains a matter to be dealt with in terms of the shareholders compact. The minister will make a statement on further actions to restore good corporate governance, stability and service delivery to the South African public.”

MPs have questioned why Peters could be in the House but failed to attend the briefing, with some saying she has to answer to the committee as well.

At the same time, Prasa’s former acting CEO Collins Letsoalo has told the committee he was removed because he started questioning the board.

Members of Parliament (MP) and Prasa board members have spent much of Tuesday's meeting discussing problems at the agency, especially those relating to the board's decision to remove Letsoalo.

It has emerged the former acting CEO’s secondment from his position at the transport department to the rail agency was never finalised in a written contract between the transport minister and the board.

Letsoalo says claims that he fired human capital group executive Bhekani Khumalo, because Khumalo would not give him a 350% increase, are untrue.

The board has told MPs Letsoalo had an attitude problem and they could not work with him any longer.

But the former acting CEO says the board only decided to remove him because he started investigating what was happening in each region.

The committee has called for an inquiry into the Board and for Minister Peters to intervene.

(Edited by Masechaba Sefularo)