DA submits PAIA application for proof VBS’ compliance with National Treasury

The DA will today submit an application to Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to request PRASA to fully disclose documents showing concrete proof of VBS Mutual Bank’s compliance with National Treasury.

In terms of Section 7 of Public Financial Management Act (PFMA), PRASA is bound to act within the “prescribed framework” for their banking, cash management and investments. S7(2)(b) requires that a public entity may only open a bank account with (a) Treasury approval and (b) after prescribed tender processes have been complied with.

This follows media reports that the cash-strapped PRASA is allegedly investing R1-billion with VBS Mutual Bank, the bank that lent President Jacob Zuma R7.8-million during the Nkandla scandal.

Further, even if PRASA was granted approval by National Treasury, VBS submitted an unsolicited bid and the DA therefore requests PRASA’s compliance with PFMA procedures for unsolicited bids and any relevant tender documents for this deal.

This is a clear indication of a leadership crisis at PRASA and this once again supports the DA’s call for a total overhaul of the leadership at the entity.

What’s more, is that there are no reasons for PRASA, which is struggling financially, to invest money it doesn’t have.

It is a huge indictment on Transport Minister, Joe Maswanganyi and the ANC government that the current board and executives don’t have the best interests of South Africans at heart.

The DA will not allow any State-Owned-Enterprise (SOE) to be used as a conduit for any corrupt activities whether for Mr Zuma or the politically-connected Gupta family who are heavily implicated in State Capture. Indeed, it is highly unusual for an entity such as PRASA, already marred by serious financial problems, to ‘invest’ in a bank in the first place.

The DA now awaits a response from PRASA as the public deserves to know the full truth.

Disgraced Dudu Myeni must keep away from SAA

The DA finds it incomprehensible that the hard-won steps towards saving SAA can be so recklessly undermined by the proposal to move the embattled airline from the Finance ministry to the Transport Ministry– a ministry that has so fouled up the e-toll saga.
What makes such a proposal even worse is the news that disgraced Dudu Myeni has been appointed as a “special” advisor to Transport Minister, Joe Maswanganyi, a close ally of President Jacob Zuma. Despite any rules that may preclude her from interfering in SAA affairs, Ms Myeni will likely ignore these and meddle in the affairs of the airline.
The DA will now write to all South African banks that are owed the R13.8 billion guaranteed by the poor people of South Africa. We will request that they immediately inform Finance Minister, Malusi Gigaba, that they will recall their loans to SAA with immediate effect should the proposal to move SAA away from National Treasury be effected and if there is any pressure put on the SAA board and CEO to run the airline as anything but a commercial enterprise.
Given the mess that SAA has become under the “rule” of Myeni, she surely must be ranked as the most unsuitable person to appoint as an aviation advisor.
The removal of Myeni from the SAA board, the appointment of a new board (including an aviation expert) and, most importantly, the appointment of experienced executives like Vuyani Jarana and Peter Davies signalled the start of a process to attempt to save SAA and most of the more than 10 000 jobs. This would be in vain if the airline is once again treated as a cadre enrichment vehicle and moved back under the influence of corporate warlord Dudu Myeni.
South African banks must ensure that SAA is run on purely commercial lines. They cannot allow SAA to once again become Myeni’s plaything as poor South Africans will suffer the effects of billions of rands in losses as vital services will be forfeited in order to fund the failing airline.

Deputy Minister Sfiso Buthelezi and former PRASA executives must be criminally investigated for their alleged corruption at PRASA

The DA will file criminal charges against Deputy Minister of Finance Sfiso Buthelezi and the former PRASA board which he was chair of, on alleged offences related to financial mismanagement while at PRASA.
The DA will also write to the Chairpersons of the Transport and Finance Committee Portfolios requesting a joint sitting in order to get to the bottom of the serious allegations implicating Buthelezi and the PRASA board which he chaired at the time, in corruption at the entity.
These offences were laid bare in the findings contained in the “leaked version” of forensic reports commissioned by National Treasury, into 193 contracts PRASA entered into between 2012 and 2016, as instructed by the Public Protector’s 2015 “Derailed” report. This is in addition to charges the DA laid against Buthelezi and his brother on the 10th of June 2017 on allegations of corruption.
In the weight of overwhelming evidence as revealed in the Treasury report, the DA will reinstate charges of alleged corruption that we laid against former PRASA, Lucky Montana, on 27 August 2015, which the SAPS subsequently closed as they deemed the matter unfounded.
It is highly suspicious that the National Treasury has been sitting on this report while most of the reports from the auditors into the same investigations were completed in 2016 already.
This is a seeming tactic to delay the release of the report as Deputy Minister Buthelezi is implicated in corruption that took place during his tenure at PRASA.
It is now clear that Montana, unduly used his influence to steal from the public purse in order to enrich himself and his associates. While at the helm of PRASA, he and the PRASA board allegedly flouted the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and the Supply Chain Management and accessed taxpayers’ monies.
Buthelezi as the then chair of the PRASA board seemingly did little to stop the graft and corruption at the entity where he used his position to allegedly enrich himself and family and he needs to be held accountable.
There is clearly no justification for this and we call upon Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi to ensure that both the SAPS and the Hawks speed up investigations into corruption at the entity.
The DA will continue fighting to re-assure the South African public that we are committed to rooting out corruption at public entities that unashamedly steal from the poor.

Continued mismanagement at Prasa could see millions of South Africans lose their jobs

The DA has information that confirms that Prasa is not compliant with sections of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). This means it may not get the funds it desperately needs from the Department of Transport.
This is very alarming as Prasa transports 2 million people to and from work every day. If Prasa does not meet the requirements to get the funding it needs to keep trains running, these people will be left stranded and will inevitably lose their jobs and livelihoods.
This is a significant number of our country’s total workforce who also support millions of other South Africans.
Transport Minister, Joe Maswanganyi, has neglected his duties and failed to uphold his mandate.
He must urgently intervene to ensure Prasa gets its affairs in order as our country cannot afford to shed more jobs in this adverse economic climate.
The problems faced by the rail agency can be traced back to him as he has had little interaction with the board since assuming office.
This shows that he does not acknowledge that there is a crisis at the rail agency and that he does not take seriously the unemployment millions of people are likely to face.
What South Africa needs to recover from the recession is more jobs.
Prasa’s reluctance to comply with the country’s laws is standing in the way of economic growth.
If the Minister really cares about people’s lives, he will take swift action to ensure that the mess at Prasa does not take away their livelihoods. Maswanganyi has been entrusted to ensure the smooth flow of transport in the country and has so far demonstrated he is not the right person to do this.

Prasa: Transport Minister must commit to continue all investigations into billions wasted

The DA will write to the new Minister of Transport, Joe Maswanganyi, to seek a formal commitment that all current investigations under way into billions spent irregularly by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), will continue.
At the end of last year, it was revealed that 142 Prasa contracts, worth a staggering R24 billion, are being investigated for possible corruption.
This is an astounding amount and must be fully investigated so that those responsible can be identified and held to account.
Under the previous Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters, the Prasa Board was dissolved in what may have been an attempt to put a stop to the ongoing investigations.
The Board certainly does have much to answer for and it is of the utmost importance that the possible suspension of the Board does not impact the continuation of the investigations.
That is why we will seek a formal commitment from Minister Maswanganyi that all investigations will continue despite his intention to suspend the Board.
The DA has it on good authority that some reasons given for the removal of the Board indicate that the situation at the entity has worsened, specifically that:
• Fruitless and wasteful expenditure has doubled from R2.3 million in the first quarter of 2016/17 to R4.6 million in the second quarter;
• Irregular expenditure which stands at R15 billion is increasing; and
• Prasa has only reached 41% of planned targets, according to the third quarter performance report for 2016/17.
Should these investigations be stopped, it would be very suspicious indeed and may indicate that there is much to hide.
The DA will continue to fight for and ensure that implicated government officials, as well as ANC-cronies, are held accountable for any abuse of state resources.

Transport Minister must explain 51% increase in Easter road deaths

The DA will write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Transport, Ms Dikeledi Magadzi, to request that she urgently summon the new Minister of Transport, Joe Maswanganyi, to explain, in detail, why there has been an alarming 51% increase in road deaths despite millions spent on numerous road safety campaigns.
The Minister must also detail exactly what campaigns were set up to try curb road deaths, how much these campaigns cost and further, why they have been so terribly unsuccessful.
Minister Maswanganyi today announced that 235 people died, over just five days, on roads in South Africa over this year’s Easter break. This means that 79 more people died this year than the 156 people that died over the same period last year.
The fact of the matter is that every year, the Department of Transport through the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), persists with the same approach in an attempt to bring down road deaths. It is the very definition of insanity to do the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome.
By their own admission, matched by independent studies, the RTMC admitted to the portfolio committee that the biggest issues contributing to deaths on our roads are moving violations, faulty brakes and smooth tyres yet their campaign addresses absolutely none of this.
The RTMC needs to follow international best practice because stopping vehicles to check for licenses on its own does not contribute to road safety as the statistics clearly indicate.
South Africans should be empowered with information on road safety by effective campaigns which will have a better chance of decreasing the unacceptably high number of people lost on our roads over the Easter holiday specifically, and throughout the year generally.
The DA will continue to push for the Department of Transport to account for their inability to implement more effective road safety campaigns, which would go a long way to reduce this unacceptably high loss of life.