Axing of Molefe, Prasa board set aside

The high court in Pretoria has ruled that the decision to dissolve the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) board should be set aside and the members reinstated.

Former Prasa board chairperson Popo Molefe filed an urgent application last month for the court to declare the board’s dissolution unlawful, reinstate the board members to their former positions, and prevent an interim board from being appointed.

According to Molefe’s founding affidavit, the decision to remove the board members and the notices of removal are “plainly unlawful and must be set aside” to prevent irremediable damage, uphold legality and vindicate public interest.

Former transport minister Dipuo Peters’s “blatant unlawful conduct and failure to reverse course or engage with the applicants timeously” warranted a punitive costs order, Molefe’s court papers read.

“The public’s interest in Prasa and the make-up of the board and the need for proper corporate governance is underscored by the investigations conducted by the offices of the Public Protector and the report of the Auditor General in 2015, which uncovered irregular expenditure at Prasa.

“As a result of these findings, and in terms of its obligations under the [Public Finance and Management Act], the relevant directors conducted an internal investigation in Prasa,” the court papers stated.

“This investigation has, to date, uncovered the true extent of fruitless, wasteful and irregular expenditure at Prasa totalling at least approximately R14-billion.”

Following the resignation of Lucky Montana as group chief executive officer in July 2015, an acting group chief executive officer was appointed and the directors in February 2016 submitted a list of preferred candidates to the minister, the affidavit reads.

It was believed that a permanent group chief executive officer would help stabilise the agency and improve performance, but despite attempts, the minister would not engage with the board, Molefe states.

Peters has since lost her job in President Jacob Zuma’s reshuffle and has been replaced by Joe Maswanganyi. – Additional reporting by agencies

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