Former chairperson of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) Popo Molefe on Monday said the ANC top six leaders whose term of office lapsed at the 2017 elective conference had turned a bind eye to the massive corruption that has engulfed the rail agency.
Molefe, who was giving evidence at the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, said the then ANC head honchos who included Jacob Zuma, current President Cyril Ramaphosa, Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe, Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize, Jessie Duarte and Baleka Mbete were briefed (by him) as early as 2015 about graft at the state-owned entity but did little to act on the matter.
Zuma was at the time ANC president as well as head of state, with Ramaphosa as his deputy both in the party and in government. Mantashe was the secretary-general, deputised by Duarte, while Mkhize was treasurer-general and Mbete served as national chairperson and as speaker of the National Assembly
“The (ANC) leaders knew about the corruption at Prasa,” Molefe said. His testimony that he had personally informed the ANC bosses raised the eyebrow of Justice Raymond Zondo, who is presiding over the proceedings.
“The top six are the top leaders of the governing party and most of them would have been in government as well, and for me the question arises: if they are told by a chairperson of a government entity such as Prasa that there is a lot of corruption we are seeing and investigating, I want to know what they did after that?” quizzed Zondo.
Zuma has already appeared before the Commission and is expected to return at a later stage, while Ramaphosa has publicly committed to appear before the Commission should he be invited to do so.
The Molefe board was shown the door in March 2017 after then Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters accused the board of failing to adhere to good governance prescripts at the rail agency after the board had fired interim chief executive Collins Letsoalo after accusations that he hiked his salary from R1.3m to R5.9m.
However, in April the board was given reprieve by a High Court order that reinstated it to complete its last three months in office.
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s Derailed report released in 2015 found evidence of widespread maladministration in the awarding of tenders worth R2.8bn at the rail agency.