South Africa 19.7.2015 06:00 am

Montana’s withdrawal ‘a postponement’

FILE PICTURE: Lucky Montana, the former CEO of PRASA (Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa) speaks on 6 July 2015 at a media briefing regarding a

FILE PICTURE: Lucky Montana, the former CEO of PRASA (Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa) speaks on 6 July 2015 at a media briefing regarding a "grossly misleading" article published in Rapport over the weekend. Picture: Christine Vermooten

Lucky Montana, sacked Prasa CEO, yesterday said he acceded to requests “from the leadership” to give them the weekend to ponder over the matter of getting rid of him. He clarified that this referred “primarily” to leaders in government, rather than the ruling ANC.

Montana however gave the assurance that he was “not cancelling, but postponing” and hoped to brief the media sometime next week.

His decision to hold back yesterday, came only hours after a media briefing organised by the Prasa board was also cancelled minutes after it was supposed to start. Prasa Group Strategy Officer Sipho Sithole told journalists in Pretoria the cancellation came after consultation with Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters, that the short statement Prasa issued the previous day regarding Montana’s futrue, was sufficient and the briefing was therefore cancelled.

Montana has been under fire in the last few weeks after a series of articles in Afrikaans newspaper Rapport, the latest accusing Prasa of buying locomotives that are unsuitable for local conditions and thereby wasting millions of rands.

Montana strongly and very publicly denied this.

In a radio interview Prasa chairperson Popo Molefe, said the board decision to relieve Montana of his duties was not based on these articles, but on the fact that he publicly criticized the board and was in breach of the conditions of his notice period that he would not sign off on any tenders.

Prasa is currently executing multibillion rand contracts, the biggest of which is a R50 billion contract that was earlier awarded to the Gibela consortium, with international transport giant Alstom as one of the main players.

Meanwhile South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) has demanded Montana’s immediate re-instatement and the dismissal of the Prasa board.

“We believe the decision by the irregular board to fire CEO Lucky Montana is illegal,” Satawu said in a statement.

“We call on Minister Peters to dissolve this board that is destroying a functioning state-owned entity”, Satawu said.

“It seems that the minister and her cronies in the board are running Prasa like their personal spaza shop. They are adamant on driving the only working South African enterprise into the ground.

“Satawu is not in support of perpetual and unlimited terms of office but where there is value added by a leader that must be harnessed and appreciated especially in relation to how the country’s SOC’s are struggling at leadership level”, Satawu said.

In a related development Public Protector Thuli Madonsela plans to release a report on an investigation into allegations of maladministration relating to financial mismanagement, tender irregularities and appointment irregularities against the PRASA on Thursday.

 

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