Newsmaker: Popo Molefe vows to stay put at Prasa

2015-07-26 19:00
Prasa chairperson Popo Molefe. PHOTO: Deaan Vivier

Prasa chairperson Popo Molefe. PHOTO: Deaan Vivier

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Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) board chairperson Popo Molefe has experienced a hectic and pressurised two weeks, but he is adamant about one point: he is not going anywhere.

Molefe insists he will not be removed from his position and will even emerge unscathed as the ANC concludes its lekgotla today, where problems in state-owned entities were expected to be discussed.

Since the Prasa board announced that it was cutting short CEO Lucky Montana’s notice period and letting him go, there has been a backlash from Montana supporters, including from transport union Satawu, student organisation Cosas and individuals in government and the ANC.

Montana claims his dismissal was politically motivated.

There was also enormous pressure on Transport Minister Dipuo Peters to reinstate Montana, but those close to her say she is resisting that.

Montana supporters have called for Molefe to be fired, and for the axed CEO to be reinstated.

Molefe accused Montana of “mobilising against me”.

“If not him, then who else?” he asked.

Molefe said that he was ready to “respond” to any moves to remove him, adding that it was the Public Protector’s report into maladministration at Prasa that will reveal “just how clean” Montana is.

“I’m not going to leave my position. The board is also not going anywhere. People feel threatened. They feel threatened that the things they used to get easily, they are not going to get any more,” he said.

“In our view, the demand that the board must go is about contracts. It has nothing to do with any other thing. It is because we are enforcing good corporate governance and accountability.”

Molefe, who was appointed board chairperson eight months ago, said he would take on anyone who openly says something to him.

Molefe, former premier of North West, charged that “people can’t misbehave” then see him as an obstacle when he cracks the whip.

“I also won’t resign. It won’t happen with me, it won’t happen with me.

“Comrades in the ANC have never said they are opposed to anything I’m doing. I’m sure they put me there because they believed I will do something good,” he said.

He said no political campaign with the hope of influencing Peters and Cabinet to dismantle the board would succeed.

Things at the parastatal have deteriorated so much that Molefe this week claimed there was a plot to assassinate him.

The axing of Montana was followed by the suspension of the head engineer Daniel Mtimkulu. Mtimkulu allegedly lied about his qualifications, claiming he had a BTech in engineering, a master’s degree and a doctorate.

Just last week, Mtimkulu sent an SMS to Molefe apologising for being a dishonest man. In it, he said that he was embarrassed by what he had done.

Molefe said he was looking forward to the conclusion of Thuli Madonsela’s investigations into allegations of maladministration.

The investigation relates to financial mismanagement, the awarding of tenders and irregular appointments by the parastatal.

Madonsela postponed the release of the report on Thursday, explaining that some implicated parties asked to make representations.

“The Public Protector’s report is going to come out, the Auditor-General’s report is going to come out, let’s see how clean he [Montana] would be when those things come out,” said Molefe.

City Press has learnt that staff at Prasa had approached Madonsela requesting to make representations against Montana now that he was not at work.

“They feared they would lose their jobs, but now they feel at ease and want to make submissions,” said a government official.

Molefe said he did not need to lobby for support from his comrades in the ANC because his integrity and track record spoke for themselves.

While he has met with some ANC members, he was adamant that these were private meetings and had nothing to do with the shenanigans at Prasa.

Molefe is understood to have the full support of the transport minister, who is also believed to have advised Molefe not to publicly speak about issues at Prasa.

He clarified that Montana was not fired because he had in effect resigned in May, although he was serving notice until November.

“We were saying you want to serve two or five months notice, but we think its in the best interests of the company to leave now. It is done by many companies. There is nothing new about it.”

Molefe said the values he stands for were more important than his own life and those values must reflect at Prasa.

He and other board members have beefed up his security after a plot to kill Molefe was allegedly discussed at an ANC military veterans’ association meeting.

That meeting was attended by Deputy Defence and Military Veterans Minister Kebby Maphatsoe, who has since denied there was any such discussion.
Read more on:    prasa  |  popo molefe
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