PRASA spends R4,6m on ads boosting Zuma - Manny de Freitas

DA MP says insert called the "Jacob Zuma Legacy Report" was placed in 9 publications

PRASA must account to SCOPA for Jacob Zuma Propaganda Project

12 August 2014

The DA will write to the chairperson of Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Themba Godi, demanding that the CEO of Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), Lucky Montana, be summoned to Parliament to account for the spending of public money on political propaganda unrelated to the mandate of the agency.

This follows the appearance of an insert in 8 national newspapers, entitled the "The Jacob Zuma Legacy Special", which is sponsored by the state entity. 

In a reply to a DA Parliamentary Question, the Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters, claims that a newspaper insert, called the "Jacob Zuma Legacy Report" appeared in 9 publications and cost the taxpayer R4 642 725.57. It was commissioned "... to tell PRASA's story, through advertising, [and its] bold and ambitious plans to bring the best passenger rail services in the country..." 

Yet the 16 page insert was nothing more than a glorification of President Jacob Zuma's previous term as head of state with no reference to PRASA's own mandate. The R4.6 million spent on this project is therefore constitutes wasteful expenditure with a purely political motivation. 

PRASA is a state entity mandated to, in consultation with the Department of Transport, ensure the provision of long haul passenger rail and bus services as set out in section 4 of the National Land Transport Transition Act. 

With the insert bearing no significant connection to this very clear mandate, the publication can only be viewed as a desperate move to try and rectify President Zuma's embattled public image.

The Minister's response seemingly amounts to a duplicitous attempt to mislead not only Parliament but also the South African people as to how taxpayers' money is spent by this state entity.   

The DA will request that detailed minutes to all meetings relating to the commissioning of the newspaper insert be presented to the Committee so as to come to the truth behind the commissioning of the report and whether the Minister has deliberately mislead Parliament and the South African people. 

This recent wasteful expenditure of taxpayer's money is made even more egregious given recent price increases in commuter rail prices at Metrorail, overcrowding on trains, and poor security. The money spent on supporting the ANC's propaganda campaign could have been better utilised in ensuring the provision of better and cheaper services to millions of South African commuters and businesses. 

Officials at PRASA must appear before Parliament to account for the publication, and satisfy Parliament as to how the publication served to advance the organisation's mandate. 

The public demands absolute transparency and accountability from all state entities and the DA will not let this clear abuse of funds go unanswered.

Text of the parliamentary reply:



Mr M S F de Freitas (DA) to ask the Minister of Transport:

(a) What did it cost the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to advertise in an insert of Sunday newspaper known as the Jacob Zuma Legacy Special publication and (b) what are the strategic reasons for advertising in this publication?          NW806E


(a) R4 642 725.57



Unit Price



Mail & Guardian

R420 000.00

R   420 000.00


The Sunday Times

R1 489 599.00

R1 489 599.00


The Sunday Independent

R298 613.84

R   298 613.84


City Press

R842 612.50

R   842 612.50


The Sowetan

R485 471.00

R   485 471.00


Business Day

R391 678.00

R   391 678.00


The Star

R482 751.23

R   482 751.23


Thobejane Media Production Fee

R250 000.00

R   250 000.00



R4 642 725.57


R4 642 725.57

(b) PRASA is currently driving a massive national rail revitalisation programme whose aim is to change the face of public transport for the next 50 years. PRASA's vision is to position rail as the public transport mode of choice. The agency is investing R51 billion in new rolling stock, R30 billion in a Modern Infrastructure Upgrade Programme and R7 billion in the latest signalling technology the rail industry has to offer.

Therefore, the purpose of PRASA's participation in the supplement was to tell PRASA's story, through advertising, about PRASA's bold and ambitious plans to bring the best passenger rail services in the country, to bring hope to millions of commuters who suffer dearly daily due to over three decades of under-investment in the rail sector, facilitate greater access to major economic hubs, education and social services. The youth face a bleak future and PRASA, through the Rolling Stock Renewal Programme, is planning to create 8 088 direct jobs, part of over 33 000 direct and indirect jobs over the 10-year period, thus bringing hope people who would be hopelessly roaming the streets of our townships.

The President has, over the 30 years since his involvement in our struggle, been championing a better life for our people and PRASA's participation converged with his objectives, with PRASA gaining immeasurably through his brand and publicity to highlight and inform the public about the work the agency is doing to changing commuter experience. PRASA will continue to participate in such excellent projects to expose the good work the entity is doing.

Statement issued by Manny de Freitas MP, DA Shadow Minister of Transport, August 12 2014

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