A big task lay ahead for Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula as he revealed on Wednesday that over 2 000 ghost employees have been uncovered at the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa). Of these, 60 were foreign nationals.
He believed Operation Ziveze would smoke out ghost workers at Prasa and deal with those who were behind the scam.
He was speaking during a briefing on a train ride between Saulsville and Pretoria, Gauteng.
The Minister of Transport Mr. Fikile Mbalula is joined by PRASA are taking a train ride on the Saulville Line to Pretoria line as part of monitoring progress made by PRASA in bringing train service back on line. https://t.co/j7GyPWVvhu— FIKILE MBALULA | MR FIX (@MbalulaFikile) April 13, 2022
Operation Ziveze has exposed employees who were without the required documentation.
“You have people earning money but are not reporting for work. That is the problem here. When we say this place is a mess, we do not talk theory.”
Mbalula said Operation Ziveze was already bearing fruit. “The operation is yielding results. It has discovered over 3 000 unverified employees. Others are coming forward, saying they were on maternity and sick leave. It is now sitting at over 2 000.”
The efforts to strengthen governance and build requisite capacity for PRASA to deliver on its mandate are gaining traction. In the last year PRASA initiated a project called Operation Ziveze aimed at validating employees and unearthing ghost workers. https://t.co/RtppgOkWfW pic.twitter.com/cCBrq6fw5s— FIKILE MBALULA | MR FIX (@MbalulaFikile) April 13, 2022
A forensic report is being compiled to submit to Parliament.
In March, Prasa appeared before the standing committee on public accounts, which requested the rail agency to provide a monthly report about its battle against ghost employees.
The acting CEO of Prasa, David Mphelo, said the parastatal was running three phases in relation to Operation Ziveze.
“We have gone past phase one. We are now in phase two, where we are analysing these people who have not done physical verification signed off by their managers,” he told Parliament.
During the first phase of the operation to weed out ghost employees, 3 000 employees could not collect their salaries during a verification process.
READ: Rail infrastructure rehab: Mbalula gives Saulsville line the thumbs up
Prasa is in no position to fund ghost employees. The ailing rail agency recorded a loss of R1.9 billion in the 2020/21 financial year.
During the parliamentary committee meeting, Mbalula revealed that Prasa’s fare revenue had plummeted by R900 million.
It had been hard hit by infrastructure damage, taking trains out of service for extended periods. This, coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic, has been blamed for the fare revenue loss.