Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (Prasa) chairperson Popo Molefe says that he does not agree with a request by Transport Minister, Dipuo Peters, to stop an investigation into potentially corrupt multi-billion rand contracts.
Peters wrote a letter instructing Molefe to stop the parastatal’s ongoing investigation into contracts awarded during the tenure of Lucky Montana, Prasa’s former CEO.
The initiation of the probe followed Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s damning Prasa report last year, in which she instructed the train operator and the National Treasury to launch investigations into all Prasa contracts valued at above R10 million.
Law firm Werksmans was appointed by the Prasa board to conduct its investigation.
According to EWN, Molefe has been given until the end of the month to respond. EWN reported that Molefe said that Prasa’s board will continue its investigation as it is legally obligated to act with integrity.
The Prasa chairperson reportedly told the minister that the Public Protector’s recommendations are now binding following a Constitutional Court ruling.
“We don’t agree with the request of the minister to stop the investigation because it has to do with the observance of the rule of law, the Constitution, in particular Section 217 and the Public Finance Management Act.”
Peters outlined in her letter that Prasa had not budgeted for the investigation and that it therefore needed to be canned immediately.
Peters’s instruction to Molefe comes at a time in which Zuma seems to want to exert more control over the country’s state owned companies (SOCs), including Prasa.
On Monday Jeff Radebe, Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, announced that the Presidency would start work on the creation of a Presidential State Owned Companies Co-ordinating Council.
Such a body would “provide President Zuma line of sight on strategic decisions and interventions to create SOCs that play a transformative role in a capable developmental State”, Radebe explained.
Zuma’s office denied that he had played any role in Peters’s instruction to Molefe.
“President Zuma has not issued any directive that the Prasa investigation be stopped,” said Bongani Ngqulunga, Zuma’s spokesperson.