The Minister of Transport, Blade Nzimande, has “short-circuited” the revival and turnaround of the Passenger Rail Authority of South Africa (PRASA) before it has even begun by authorising the appointment of Sibusiso Sithole as the company’s CEO, despite publicly available information on his chequered past and limited knowledge of the transport sector.
The DA has repeatedly called for a review of the appointment process for heads of parastatals, as the current system where Ministers use their own discretion does nothing to engender accountability on the appointment of office-bearers who are fit for purpose.
It is simply unacceptable that for an organisation such as PRASA which is struggling under the weight of bad debt and poor corporate governance, the Minister sees it fit to appoint an individual who cannot manage his personal finances.
While he was eThekwini’s municipal manger it was revealed that Mr. Sithole racked up almost R2 million in bad debt, defaulted on his income tax and was slow to take action against firms that were involved in tender irregularities with the city. In 2016, under unclear circumstances, he was asked to leave office early by Mayor Zandile Gumede.
Mr. Sithole’s failure to efficiently manage the affairs of the city of eThekwini brings into question his ability to deal with the intractable problems currently facing PRASA such as the long drawn out absence of a substantive board and the failure to table the parastatal’s annual report for the 2016/17 financial year.
Today, PRASA yet again failed to table their Annual Report in Parliament which was due in August last year.
The rot that has plagued PRASA under former CEO, Lucky Montana, requires a CEO with a clean record and who understands the complex operating environment in which PRASA operates. Sadly, Mr. Sithole does not have recognisable experience in the rail sector to be able to turn around the fortunes of PRASA.
The continued chaos at PRASA, which is responsible for managing commuter rail services in the metropolitan areas, limits access to opportunity for most South Africans as they rely heavily on PRASA to get to work or look for jobs.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s promise of a ‘new dawn’ has now been proven beyond any doubt that it is a damp squib that will do nothing to revive South Africa’s failing parastatals.
African news agency