The mandate of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa's interim board will be extended by six months before its term expires at the end of April, Transport Minister Blade Nzimande said on Thursday, as he announced a two-phased intervention process to turn around the agency.
The board will stay on while the company undertakes an organisational analysis aimed at identifying challenges at the state-owned entity, which has faced leadership instability as well as allegations of corruption and poor governance.
Nzimande told journalists that a task team would be appointed to conduct the organisational analysis, which is expected to take 6-8 weeks.
The process will address key factors that have led to failed implementation of Prasa’s previous turnaround strategies.
Nzimande said it was important for the board to remain in place while the assessment is performed.
"If we were to do this through examination, it is important that they also focus on what kind of a board we should have if we were to turn around Prasa," he said.
Following the organisational analysis, Prasa will move to appoint a turnaround execution team, which will report to the board and Nzimande.
Procurement, management woes
Nzimande lamented Prasa’s current organisational structure, including the agency’s centralised "cumbersome procurement process" - which he blamed for hobbling operations.
Prasa has had acting CEOs since 2013.
"For six years we have not had a permanent CEO; that is a major problem. If we can stabilise management and the appointment of permanent managers, then half of the job would be done," said Nzimande.
He stated that the process of appointing a permanent CEO was already underway.
Nkosinathi Sishi is currently acting CEO, following the resignation of Sibusiso Sithole in February, after just nine months on the job.
'So many managers'
Although the organisation has been struggling to fill critical vacancies, Nzimande said the structure had an excess of managers.
"I have never seen an organisation with so many managers," he said, adding that he had instructed the board to also look at the system.
In March, the board placed various executives on special leave and suspension, citing allegations of improper, irregular, corrupt, fruitless and wasteful expenditure against them.
Nzimande said disciplinary processes would be set up before determining further action against the suspended managers.