The Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Tuesday that Sibusiso Sithole was not fit to turn around the fortunes of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).
Prasa on Tuesday announced Sithole as its new group chief executive for a period of 12 months effective June 1, 2018. Sithole, the former city manager of eThekwini Municipality, will take over from Cromet Molepo who had been the acting group chief executive since December 2017.
Prasa said it appointed Sithole, a turnaround strategist and policy specialist, to bring stability and certainty to the embattled state-owned rail agency.
But Manny de Freitas, DA spokesperson on transport, said Transport Minister Blade Nzimande had “short-circuited” Prasa’s revival and turnaround before it even begun by authorising Sithole’s appointment, highlighting Sithole’s “chequered past and limited knowledge of the transport sector”.
“The DA has repeatedly called for a review of the appointment process for heads of parastatals, as the current system where ministers use their own discretion does nothing to engender accountability on the appointment of office-bearers who are fit for purpose,” De Freitas said.
“It is simply unacceptable that for an organisation such as Prasa, which is struggling under the weight of bad debt and poor corporate governance, the minister sees it fit to appoint an individual who cannot manage his personal finances.”
De Frietas said Sithole had racked up almost R2 million in bad debt, defaulted on his income tax and was slow to take action against firms that were involved in tender irregularities when he was city manager in eThekwini.
“Mr Sithole’s failure to efficiently manage the affairs of the city of eThekwini brings into question his ability to deal with the intractable problems currently facing Prasa, such as the long drawn out absence of a substantive board and the failure to table the parastatal’s annual report for the 2016/17 financial year,” De Freitas added.
On Tuesday, Prasa again failed to table their annual report in Parliament, which was due in August last year.