OFF THE RAILS
Prasa board chairperson Leonard Ramatlakane fired after agency accommodation scandal
The country’s rail agency is once again without a permanent board chairperson after Leonard Ramatlakane was fired following an investigation into his use of Prasa accommodation that is intended to be used by officials on trips to Cape Town, to avoid incurring hotel expenses.
Leonard Ramatlakane has been fired as the board chairperson of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) following an investigation into his occupation of a Prasa property “without due and proper processes being followed”.
The announcement was made by the Transport Ministry on Tuesday, 6 June. According to the ministry, Ramatlakane was removed as both a board member and chairperson.
Ramatlakane, a former ANC MP, was appointed chairperson in October 2020.
Daily Maverick made repeated attempts to contact him on Tuesday, but he had not responded at the time of publishing this report.
In May, Daily Maverick reported Ramatlakane missed a parliamentary meeting at the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, with Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga explaining that it was due to a deadline for Ramatlakane to provide reasons for his occupation of the Prasa property in Newlands.
Read more in Daily Maverick: D-Day for Ramatlakane over luxury Prasa property rental in Cape Town
In March, the Sunday Times reported that Ramatlakane had moved his family into the Prasa property while his own home was being renovated. This property was meant to be used by officials on work trips so that Prasa avoided paying hotel costs. This raised eyebrows among Prasa officials, who said this was an abuse of public funds. At the time, Prasa could not confirm to the Sunday Times how much Ramatlakane paid in rental costs.
The Prasa board decided on 6 March to refer the allegations to an internal inquiry.
Prasa again without a board chairperson
Ramatlakane and the rest of the board were appointed on a three-year contract in October 2020. The board’s term of office will end in October 2023.
Before the Ramatlakane board appointment Prasa had not had a permanent board or chairperson since 2017.
Read more in Daily Maverick: At last – a permanent board for embattled Prasa
Ramatlakane has a long history in governance and politics. He held several positions in the then ANC-controlled Western Cape government and legislature: between 1994-1997 he served as MEC for transport and public works. Following his appointment as an ANC chief whip in the legislature between 1997 and 2001, he was community safety MEC from 2001 to 2008.
In 2008, he left the ANC for COPE and represented the party in the National Assembly in 2009 and 2014, reported TimesLIVE.
In 2014, he moved back to the ANC and made it to Parliament where he sat on the transport oversight committee in the National Assembly until the 2019 general elections. It was during this time that Prasa made a number of appearances before Parliament over its troubled leadership, poor financials and sustained vandalism, theft and arson of its infrastructure.
Daily Maverick asked Transport Ministry spokesperson Collen Msibi who will head up the board, but is still waiting for a response.
“The ministry is committed to clean administration and governance across its entities,” said Chikunga’s office. DM