PRASA promises no delays as details of CEO’s firing are revealed

BY CHARL BOSCH - JULY 20, 2015

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) has stated that its regular services will not be affected by the firing of CEO, Lucky Montana, and suspension of Engineering Head Daniel Mthimkulu last week.

“We still have trains and buses to run and all our other businesses and that is what the board expects of us,” Acting Spokesperson and Group Strategy Officer, Sipho Sithole, said in a statement.

His announcement comes after the rail operator severed ties with Montana on Thursday amidst allegations he made against certain Board members, as well as his failure to stick with an agreement not to sign tenders.

“We considered those conditions [and the things] he was saying on all those public platforms that there is a breakdown in the relationship between him and the board,” PRASA Chairperson Popo Molefe was quoted as saying.

A day later, PRASA confirmed that it had also placed Mthimkulu on indefinite suspension, after failing to verify the authenticity of a PhD he received from an unnamed German university.

Addressing the media at a hurriedly called briefing the same day, Montana stated that his dismissal had been “grossly unfair” and “hurtful” before calling a halt to proceedings without answering any questions.

Hours before, a similar briefing by PRASA was also cancelled after Sithole announced that a statement, issued the previous day, provided sufficient information to their reasons for axing Montana.

Weekend media has however reported that senior PRASA board members are expected to meet with government later week after alleged outrage at its decision to let Montana go.

According to CityPress, internal sources have indicated that senior cabinet members, including President Jacob Zuma, felt the decision to fire Montana was too harsh, and that the Board, as well as Transport Minister Dipuo Peters, offered him a raw deal by immediately calling for his dismissal.

The paper also claims that a “push from high up” had called for PRASA to re-instate Montana with some sources also claiming that Molefe could soon face the axe.

“[Montana] has done so much for public transport in this country. There is no one who knows more about rail in South Africa than him,” a reported senior government figure told the paper.

“Don’t be shocked if you see Montana back in his seat and Molefe out the door,” another source was quoted by the paper as saying.

CityPress also claims that details of a meeting the day before Montana’s sacking, showed proceedings turned into a shouting contest between himself and Molefe over Mthimkulu, the controversial R600-million Afro 4000 diesel locomotives, and an investigation by Public Protector Thul Madonsela.

Reportedly, board members had to intervene after Montana became so annoyed when questioned by Molefe about the signing of a tender, that they nearly exchanged blows. Upon receiving a text message that his uncle had died in hospital, Montana abruptly left the meeting, at which point the board decided to get rid of him.

 

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