Parliament failed in its oversight at Prasa: Justice Zondo

Justice Raymond Zondo has told the state capture commission in Johannesburg that he is worried and surprised that no one took an interest in the prosecution of cases brought by the board of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa). Zondo is chairing the commission that is probing allegations of corruption and fraud in the public sector during former President Jacob Zuma’s tenure.

Zondo says Zuma and his ministers ought to have asked questions regarding the cases of alleged corruption, among other things.

Zondo was responding to former Prasa board chair Popo Molefe’s testimony at the commission.

Molefe detailed how law enforcement agencies were allegedly paralysed and failed to act on the Prasa cases. Molefe said many competent officers and prosecutors had been sidelined during the Zuma era.

He also told the commission how former Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi allegedly went ahead with projects worth billions of rands despite knowing they were irregular.

In the video below, Tuesday’s state capture hearing:

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The former Prasa board chair cited the Moloto Corridor project as an example. He said Maswanganyi and his team went ahead with the initiative knowing very well that it had been deemed irregular and not viable by National Treasury.

Molefe says the former minister continued work on the Moloto project without any regard for procurement policies despite his board canning the project. Monies awarded to many other irregular contracts have also not been retrieved to date.

Molefe says Siyangena Technologies for instance owes Prasa about R6 billion, including interest.

A visibly angry Justice Zondo said Parliament failed in its oversight role.

“Parliament must be interested in these things, the governing party must be interested in how their own deployees perform their jobs. Are they displaying a fight against corruption that the party says it’s committed to? Is that commitment to fighting corruption? It’s very very worrying, very, very worrying. You may have been doing what was considered to be your job but it raises a lot of things because it gave an opportunity to various institutions if they were committed to fighting corruption.”

Zondo says he is also concerned that years later, not much has been done about the reported Prasa cases. He also highlighted that with COVID-19 there should be an even clearer determination by organs of state to recover monies stolen at state-owned entities.

Molefe has concluded his testimony. He was the chairperson of the Prasa board from 2014 to 2017.

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