Determined to fix Prasa

Mbalula defends effort to bring some stability to entity, appointment of administrator.

CAPE ARGUS, by Mayibongwe Maqhna

TRANSPORT Minister Fikile Mbalula has defended the appointment of Bonginkosi Mpondo as an administrator at Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) after dissolving the interim board.

“It is something that had to be done. It is something done within the prescript of the law,” he said yesterday.

The minister told MPs that he had followed the due process in appointing Mpondo after the then interim board did not perform its duty.

He explained in detail the process he followed including consulting President Cyril Ramaphosa, National Treasury and the Cabinet before dissolving the board and appointing Mpondo last year.

Mbalula made the statement when briefing the transport portfolio committee on the appointment and plans to address challenges at the entity.

The briefing came at a time when he is facing a legal challenge from civil society coalition, #UniteBehind.

Mbalula said the auditor-general issued reports in successive years that were not good about Prasa and there was infighting between ministers, the boards and management.

“The things we are answering with the director-general date back to 2012,” he said.

Earlier Mbalula told the committee how Prasa had over fie years seen its revenue decline by 48%, resulting in its operating deficit reaching R1.8billion.

The entity’s operational performance had continued to decline with notable stagnation in 2015 and 2016 in its on-time performance, and its safety record plunging to unprecedented levels in 2016.

Mbalula said in less than a year at the department, he has taken decisions to fix the ailing entity, including closing the Cape Town central line corridor for refurbishment.

“I would rather be insulted by the communities for the truth than lie to them saying I will fix this today and then tomorrow it goes down,” he said.

Justifying his decisions, he said: “I am informed by the state of the entity. I am informed by ineptitude. I am informed by rogueness and by the place that has totally collapsed and which I characterised as a broken place.”

Mbalula added the biggest success of Mpondo’s stay at Prasa would be to deal with malfeasance and lack of corporate governance.

He wanted Prasa to have “some level of stability within a year”.

“I’m worried by the fact that I have to go to court and defend the case…”

Mbalula said that instead of being engaged in fights, he needed support and that the intervention at Prasa was important.

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