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Prasa getting back on track - board chair

Mar 08 2016 18:53
Jenni Evans, News24

Cape Town - The Passenger Rail Agency of SA's chief financial officer Hunadi Manyatsa is back at work after a long period of illness, Parliament's committee on transport was told on Tuesday.

This was after MPs wanted to know where she was and how she had not picked up some of the incidents of wasteful and irregular expenditure that the auditor general highlighted in the state-owned enterprise's 2014/15 financial report.

This included an extra R357 million paid to Swifambo for components for R3.5 billion worth of locomotives that turned out to be too tall for South Africa's rail tunnels and extending a R58-million contract to SA Fence and Gate to enclose depots. 

Earlier, acting group chief executive officer Nathi Khena had taken the committee through pages of incidents including late bidders winning tenders, contracts extended without approval and appointing suppliers directly without following proper processes.

Some charter bus drivers had not followed procedure with their overnight hotels and fuel was purchased from depots that were not preferred suppliers.

In February, Transport Minister Dupuo Peters attended one of the committee's meetings and complained that she had not seen Manyatsa at the commitee since her appointment in 2014.

On Tuesday, several committee members also raised questions about Manyatsa's competence but, unknown to them, she was present at the meeting.

She had been sitting at the end of the long table having arrived late due to delays caused by Parliament's new security sign in process.

When Khena pointed out that she was present, she was asked to move closer to him and a colleague swapped seats with her.

Khena explained that Manyatsa had been ill and at one point possible medical boarding was considered. Last month Fin24 reported that she had a psychological condition and was "unstable" at times, and had been intimidated by a service provider.

Khena took the committee through action it had taken to deal with the numerous allegations of irregular expenditure but MPs were not satisfied.

They complained that people accused of irregularities appeared to get off lightly by just being disciplined and fired.

They also wanted to know why there were so many acting managers - from the group CEO, to the acting chief procurement officer.

"It seems it's a circus because we have identified problems, but nothing is happening," said Mtikeni Patrick Sibande.

But Khena said the company was on track in terms of dealing with all of its problems and was also holding a skills audit after discovering that a key engineer involved in the order of the too-tall locomotives did not have the qualifications he claimed to have.

It is also retraining employees and using independent experts to help it deal with its problems.

Interviews had been done for his own position and recommendations would be submitted to the minister this week.

Board chairperson Popo Molefe told the committee that "an elaborate amount of work" had been done to get the agency back on track.

"We are confident that given the measures we have taken and the seriousness of the board, we will finally get this thing behind us.

"In the next financials, many of those repeat findings will be out of the equation," Molefe said.

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prasa  |  transport  |  sa economy

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