National 24.8.2016 11:36 am

Transport minister ‘flagrantly abuses power’ – DA

Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters during a Pre-Budget Vote Media Briefing at Imbizo Media Centre in Cape Town. South Africa. 05/05/2015. Siyabulela Duda

Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters during a Pre-Budget Vote Media Briefing at Imbizo Media Centre in Cape Town. South Africa. 05/05/2015. Siyabulela Duda

The opposition wants Dipuo Peters to explain why an investigation of a botched R51bn locomotive deal has allegedly been withdrawn and whether it has to do with Zuma and the Guptas.

The Democratic Alliance released a statement on Wednesday claiming it was “in possession of a confidential letter exposing the Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters’ gross abuse of power by flagrantly attempting to thwart and ultimately terminate an independent investigation being conducted by [attorneys] Werksmans into irregular tenders at the embattled rail agency Prasa”.

Below is the DA’s statement in full. The Citizen is investigating and more news will follow.

Minister Peters states the following in the letter dated 12 August 2016 “I therefore, ask that you close off this investigation process and consider the results thereof. Furthermore, the board is requested to submit a detail[ed] report indicating the progress and the outcome of the investigation. A determination of any further investigation and a way forward will subsequently be made after studying the report in detail.”

> > ALSO READ: Leave me out of Gupta fight – Montana

We will therefore request the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Transport to summon the Minister in order for South Africans to be briefed on why she has requested for the investigation to be withdrawn whilst in progress. We need answers from Minister Peters on her about-turn on such an important investigation that saw a botched R51 billion locomotives tender that was smeared by Gupta involvement.

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> > Guptas ‘almost’ climbed aboard R51bn gravy train – report

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Specifically Minister Peters must avow that this latest move has nothing to do with President Jacob Zuma’s and her relationship with the Guptas.

Minister Peters bases her interference on spurious reasons stating that the investigation is “endless and without a clear scope” or “objective” which is completely baseless and untrue. The objectives of this investigation are clearly spelled out in the Auditor-General’s scathing report, a report that the Minister herself has seen and has never questioned the veracity thereof.

It is clear that the Minister is concerned more about protecting fellow ANC cadres who may be fingered in the outcomes of the investigation than aiming to recover taxpayers money that was looted in illicit tenders.

In the letter Minister Peters speaks of the monies paid to Werksmans investigation as excessive and being tantamount to irregular expenditure which is untrue, for an investigation into billions the current R80 million fee seems on par with market rates. Furthermore if the Minister had not tried to stonewall and protect Prasa incumbents such as former CEO, Lucky Montana, the commissioning of an independent report would not be necessary.

It is astonishing that a Minister would request an investigation into financial malfeasance to be terminated prematurely unless there is something to hide.

The DA will not rest until South Africans are given closure on the billions of taxpayer rands that have disappeared at Prasa due to illicit tenders. It is high time that the Minister stop protecting ANC cadres and refrain from meddling in the affairs of Prasa to serve a narrow political agenda.

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