Unions are the last to shed a tear for the CEO of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), Zolani Matthews, after he was placed on precautionary suspension as an investigation into his employment contract gets under way.
The Prasa board met on Thursday to consider an "alleged sensitive matter" of a security breach and other contractual obligations associated with Matthews' employment contract, according to its statement. It did not give further details on the matter.
"By consensus, the board resolved that [Matthews] should be placed on precautionary suspension to allow detailed probing of the matter at hand to be concluded in his absence," the statement read.
There has been no love lost between Matthews and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) as well as the South African Transport and Allied Workers' Union during his now 10-month tenure at the helm of the entity.
At the end of last month, the two unions held a joint march to the Department of Transport in Tshwane, calling for Matthews’ removal. They slammed Matthews for apparent salary delays in the Autopax division and demanded a probe in the disposal of buses by the subsidiary.
Far from remorseful about Matthews’ suspension, Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola told Fin24 the union felt "zero sympathy" for the suspended CEO and went as far as to say he should be fired.
Hlubi-Majola said Matthews was not the right person to hold the position and that the union would not budge from that position for as long as he was unable to take workers into confidence about the fate of Autopax in the future.
An acting group CEO has yet to be appointed, but the board has said that it will make sure that daily operations of the organisation are not affected.
Matthews was appointed CEO in February, following years of leadership instability at the entity. He is chairperson of the Ports Regulator and was previously a councillor at the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).