Cabinet ratings: Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula

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Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula
Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula

Fikile Mbalula: Minister of Transport

When one thinks of the transport department, the first thing that comes to mind is its embattled passenger rail agency, with high levels of theft and vandalism and inadequate governance records, poor financial record keeping and management. The department has also been flagged by the Office of the Auditor-General (AG) over three of its entities – the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral), the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa). In Parliament, the AG's office fingered the three entities for financial losses due to material irregularities.

Achievements: Mbalula inherited a dysfunctional department plagued by corruption and mismanagement. Since his appointment, very little has been achieved in changing this.

Failures: In November, the National Automobile Dealers' Association (NADA) made a plea to Mbalula to urgently address extensive administrative delays in document turnaround times and vital operational systems that are drastically impacting motor vehicle sales in South Africa. In its statement, the organisation said problems with the registration of new vehicles and the renewal of driver's licences were severely hurting the economy and small business owners.

During the hard lockdown, Mbalula, who likes being called "Mr Fixit", cowered to the taxi industry and failed to seize the opportunity to regulate the billion-rand industry. During this time, with only 70% occupancy allowed in taxis, owners complained that they would run out of business and needed relief funds from government. Government relief proved difficult as the industry is largely informal. This would have meant tax numbers and business registrations, which could have meant a huge win for National Treasury.

Prasa is by far Mbalula's biggest headache. During an appearance before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Mbalula said Prasa had turned the corner. He also defended his appointment of administrator Bongisizwe Mpondo, which was declared unlawful by the Western Cape High Court.

Overall score out of ten: 3

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