Popo Molefe. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO
Popo Molefe. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO

Popo Molefe, the outgoing board chairman of the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), has told Business Day that he leaves optimistic about Prasa’s future and that much of the progress the previous board and directors made in improving the entity cannot be easily reversed.

Molefe is leaving the agency at a time when directors are being shown the door at various state agencies, stoking fear that politically connected individuals are tightening their grip on state procurement to continue cashing in on lucrative deals.

Molefe’s exit means he will not be able to enforce a high court order stipulating that Swifambo pay back R2.6bn for locomotives the agency procured from the company.

It also means that investigations by Werksmans Attorneys into extensive corruption at the government agency could be undermined if Prasa comes under the leadership of individuals seeking to keep patronage networks intact.

Molefe said Prasa’s efforts in stamping out corruption and implementing organisational transformation had driven other boards of state-owned enterprises to confront corruption and mismanagement.

Parastatals such as Eskom, Transnet and PetroSA followed suit and initiated their own investigations into corruption, he said.

"The most important thing is that we have moved quite a long way to restore confidence of the general public in Prasa, particularly in the outgoing board, and we have showed we are willing to confront corruption wherever it rears its head," said Molefe.

He said some would attempt to reverse these gains but would not succeed because they were reaffirmed by the judiciary.

PRESSURE

"The ANC can’t talk with a forked tongue while letting those responsible get away. They will have to fight it and pursue them," said Molefe.

"The pressure of the general public is so high and intense that there cannot be a reversal of what we have achieved."

In an open letter last week, former CEO Lucky Montana came out in defence of Prasa’s former chief financial officer and his financial adviser during his time at the agency, Fenton Gastin, after the High Court in Pretoria ordered Gastin to pay back R8.2m for contracts awarded to consulting firms.

Molefe said while he had not read Montana’s letter it would not change the irregularities in the nature of Gastin’s contract.

magubanek@businesslive.co.za

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