Transport union demands reinstatement of fired Prasa CEO

Satawu members marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to demand the reinstatement of fired Prasa CEO Lucky Montana

South African President Jacob Zuma should fire Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) board chairman Popo Molefe and reinstate fired CEO Lucky Montana to restore order at the rail organisation, the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union said on Tuesday.

The union’s deputy general secretary, Nicholas Maziya, said Montana was the ”most progressive CEO” in the country who had employed over 500 uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) veterans at Prasa.

“We call on the President [Jacob Zuma] to put Prasa under his office, to remove Transport Minister Dipuo Peters and board chairman Popo Molefe from their positions… their concerns have nothing to do with the workers or the poor,” Maziya said at the Union Buildings in Pretoria after handing over a memorandum to an official from the Presidency.

Montana should be reinstated, or else we will make Prasa ungovernable.”

Groups of not more than 500 Satawu members marched to Zuma’s office to demand the removal of Peters, Molefe and the reinstatement of Montana. They carried placards that read “Down with Popo Molefe” and “Zuma take back Montana at Prasa. We want him back”.

Satawu deputy general secretary Nicholas Maziya talking to journalists after a memorandum was handed over to the Presidency at Union Buildings in Pretoria. Picture: ANA

Satawu deputy general secretary Nicholas Maziya talking to journalists after a memorandum was handed over to the Presidency at Union Buildings in Pretoria. Picture: ANA

The group marched from Pretoria train station under police watch.

Montana was fired by the Prasa board two weeks ago. The board said his removal had nothing to do with the scandal over the purchasing of Spanish trains deemed not suitable for South Africa’s railway infrastructure. Government spent R600 million rand on the locomotives.

Maziya said Montana had overlooked processes and employed around 500 MK veterans at Prasa to beef up security and to fight cable theft.

“He has done a lot for veterans, whom no one cared about when they were unemployed and poor after sacrificing so much for the liberation of the country. He said he was employing them because they were more qualified than the average security guard, his decision has resulted in the decrease [of] cable theft and a secure railway system.”

He added that Montana was also accessible to workers.

“Even we as union officials, did not sometimes had to meet with Montana. He could speak to workers directly, that is how progressive and accessible he was. We want him back at Prasa.”

On allegations by Molefe that his life was under threat following the dismissal of Montana, Maziya said Molefe was “diverting attention and lying”.

Molefe reportedly opened a case of conspiracy to commit murder with police after learning that there were threats to kill him. The plot emanated from a meeting, Molefe alleged.

But Maziya said no such a plot to kill anyone had taken place.

“That meeting was attended by more than 100 people in a hall, people who included deputy ministers and other top officials. Who would stand up and talk about plotting to kill anyone in a public meeting? Molefe is lying and diverting attention…this Prasa matter boils down to tenders. Molefe wants to mess up Prasa as he did at PetroSA.”

Molefe is a former board chairman of state oil company, PetroSA.

Montana has since promised to reveal details around his removal and also indicated that government had intervened to resolve the impasse between him and board chairman Molefe.

The release of a report by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela into allegations of maladministration relating to financial mismanagement and tender and appointment irregularities at Prasa was postponed to August 3 allow for further representations by those implicated in the investigation.

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