Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula’s decision to dissolve the Prasa interim board and put the passenger rail entity under administration allegedly came after the board refused to appoint Bongisizwe Mpondo, the current administrator, as CEO.
Details have emerged indicating the minister and his political adviser, Bo Mbindwane, had been puing pressure on the interim board and its chair, Khanyisile Kweyama, lobbying for the appointment of their preferred candidate Mpondo as CEO.
When this failed, the board was dissolved and Mpondo brought in as an administrator – giving him wide-ranging powers over Prasa.
According to sources in Mbalula’s department, and the interim board the drama started after Prasa could not find a suitable candidate for
CEO following an interview process and was considering head-hunting.
Highly placed sources in the Department of Transport and the interim board revealed that in his first meeting with the former interim board chair in Cape Town, Mbalula had asked Kweyama about the delay in the appointment of Mpondo as CEO of Prasa.
The meeting is said to have been preceded by one in Pretoria, where Mbalula allegedly raised the same issues about the appointment of Mpondo, but was not happy with a lack of progress in the appointment.
The two meetings, according to the sources privy to these details, came after Mbindwane sent Mpondo’s CV allegedly stating that Kweyama should consider him for the position of CEO as this was the minister’s preferred candidate.
These details were confirmed by one of the members of the interim board, who said Mbindwane had said the two were free to take the discussions off the WhatsApp group if they were not comfortable with the platform.
Sunday World sources also said they were shocked by the minister’s decision to dissolve the board, stating that during the last board meeting attended by Mbalula at the end of October last year, the minister praised the interim board stating that they were doing a great job.
“The next thing there was a sudden change of heart, and they were told he wanted to dissolve them,” said the source.
One of the board members revealed it became clear to them that their sin was their refusal to appoint Mpondo as EO.
At the briefing, Mbalula cited auditor-general reports on the performance of Prasa for the year 2019, especially its regression from qualified audit opinion to disclaimer, as one of the reasons behind his decision to dissolve the board.
Interestingly, he also said that he would only announce the appointment of a permanent board after 12 months.
“The pressure assertion is a lie and a total fabrication, seemingly a fight-back campaign by those found wanting in Minister Mbalula’s strong, decisive action in protecting Prasa, as per presidential directive. I know it’s painful to lose a job, even embarrassing if it’s due to
lack of performance and slacking in application of their fiduciary duties…” he said.
He said the board failed to appoint the CEO within three months but denied imposing Mpondo on the board.
By Aubrey Mothombeni