Minister Fikile Mbalula should be held personally accountable for the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) poor performance and poor decisions made by the newly appointed Board.
Steve Harris, General Secretary of the United National Transport Union (UNTU), says the Board of Prasa and the Minister had mud on their faces after Judge Edwin Tlhotlhalemaje of the Labour Court in Johannesburg ordered Prasa to immediately reinstate Pearl Munthali, one of the Prasa Executives who the Board showed the door just last month.
The Court ruled that the employment contract between Munthali and Prasa remains extant. Prasa is also ordered to pay Munthali’s costs of the application.
The Board ended the contracts of Munthali, Prasa Foundation chief executive, Martha Ngoye, group chief executive for legal, risk, and compliance, and Nkosinathi Khena, chief operating officer, on the 31st January 2021.
Harris says on the 19th February 2021, the Board announced that it terminated the contracts of another four (4) Prasa Executives for alleged poor work performance. They are Nosipho Damasana, Chief Executive Officer: Prasa Rail, Hishaam Emeran, Chief Executive Officer: Prasa Technical, Tebogo Rakau, Chief Security Officer, and Sandile Dlamini, Group Company Secretary.
“The decisions of the Board made no sense and the Minister has a duty to intervene and to rectify before the Court has to do it for him. Ironically, it was under Damasana’s hand that Prasa managed to achieve the unthinkable of reopening the Mbopane railway line which is critical to the economy of Gauteng,” says Harris.
UNTU is of the view that it is time for President Cyril Ramaphosa to do a performance appraisal on Minister Mbalula, aka Mr. Fix-IT, for not fixing Prasa as promised for two (2) years after he took over the reins.
“It has been five (5) months since Minister Mbalula declared war on illegal scrap metal dealers in his beefed-up comprehensive security plan to protect the rail infrastructure of Prasa, but there has been little to no improvement on the ground level.
“There is truly little to be seen of the modern technology like drones that would have formed part of the Minister’s intelligence-driven new security plan.
“Core to this plan was the employment of an additional 3 100 Prasa protection officers that would have worked hand in hand with other law enforcement authorities, especially with the Rapid Rail Police Unit within the South African Police Service (SAPS) whose mandate it is to protect South Africa’s Railway Infrastructure.
“Despite the promises of war on criminals that the Minister has made, the vandalism and theft of the little rail infrastructure that is left are just continuing daily,” says Harris.
According to him, the harsh reality is that this blatant attack on the rail infrastructure started after the Minister and the disbanded former Board of Prasa ended the security contacts of twenty (20) security companies without having any alternative in place on the 31st October 2019.
“This bad decision has also had a devastating negative impact on the infrastructure of Transnet Freight Rail (TFR). TFR, operating the heart of South Africa’s economy, also reported unprecedented vandalism and theft of its rail infrastructure which resulted in an increase in derailments. It is time that the President shows pollical will and acts against Minister Mbalula who makes empty promises,” says Harris.
For more information phone Harris on 082 566 5516.