PRASA Board members must be held to account - Manny de Freitas

DA lays charges of charges of maladministration, fraud and corruption

PRASA Board members must be held to account for bringing rail services to its knees

Note to Editors: The below statement follows the laying of charges of fraud and corruption against PRASA Board by the DA Shadow Minister of Transport, Manny de Freitas MP, and the DA Shadow Minister of Police, Zakhele Mbhele MP.

Please find attached an English soundbite by Mr De Freitas and in IsiZulu by Mr Mbhele.

View pictures here, here, and here.

Today, the Democratic Alliance laid charges of maladministration, fraud and corruption against Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s board (PRASA) in terms of the Section 50, 51 and 55 of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and Section 34 the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act (PRECCA).

The charges are based on a draft Auditor-General report, leaked to the DA, which details shocking financial mismanagement and possible breaches of the PFMA and PRECCA at PRASA.

PRASA has failed to table last year’s 2016/17 Annual Report which is now 318 Days overdue and this report in the DA’s possession shows why they have been reluctant to do so. The report revealed that:

PRASA systems are inadequate to identify irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure;

Tender irregularities continue, and tenders do not comply with respective laws, regulations and are not transparent. All tenders audited by the AG had irregularities related to the method of selection of a service provider and all the tenders had questionable bid processes; and

There are major issues with remuneration of PRASA employees. From the report, it is clear that some executives received remuneration illegally or incorrectly.

The DA hopes the South African Police Services (SAPS) will prioritise these charges to ensure that all those responsible for our failing railway system are investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

These board members presided over a complete collapse in governance at the entity which has affected quality of services and efficient running of the public transport system.

With the ever-increasing fuel prices, trains remain the cheapest mode of transport for South Africans and it’s vital that the backbone of South Africa’s public transport network gets back on track.

The DA has a rail plan that will create a safe and well-managed railway system which put commuters first and will ensure job security. The plan is based on four aspects:

1.  Stabilising and modernising the current rail system -  Focus on upgrading the current signal system to phase out the manual signal to prevent further crashes and derailment and re-establish a dedicated rail police unit to provide security on our rail system.

2. Merge Transnet and PRASA under the Department of Transport - All rail-related passenger and freight services should become the direct responsibility of the Minister of Transport, to streamline decision making and improve planning and integration.

3. Ceding control of Metrorail services to Metros - Metropolitan governments should take over Metrorail functions gradually which will ensure integrated public transportation systems and better governance.

4. Diversifying Ownership - While the state should retain ownership of the infrastructure, the DA calls for the gradual privatisation of some railway operations. This will increase competition and choice for transportation in the rail sector.

The DA is committed to freeing South Africans from the ANC’s broken promises and continued looting. Commuters must be provided with quality services they rightly deserve so that they are able to keep and look for jobs.

In 2019, South Africans have the choice to vote in a national government which puts the people first, speeds up the delivery of services and cuts corruption.

Statement issued by Manny de Freitas MP, DA Shadow Minister of Transport, 24 August 2018