Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula announced on Saturday 27 February that Zolani Kgosie Matthews has been appointed as the Group Chief Executive Officer of Prasa.

Mbalula said Prasa “has not had a permanent group CEO since Lucky Montana in 2015, before the last one in 2018, who unfortunately left within a year”. A new appointment has now been confirmed:

“I am pleased to announce that following the tireless efforts of the Board this week, Cabinet approved the appointment of a permanent Group Chief Executive Officer of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa.”

The appointment follows after the labour court earlier this month ordered Prasa to reinstate fired executive on 29 January – the head of the Prasa Development Foundation, Nqobile Pearl Munthali. 

New Prasa CEO announced

According to Mbalula, Matthews is a “seasoned professional, with a robust understanding of international and domestic business strategy who has operated in dynamic, complex and agile organisations.

“His professional track record of over 30 years bears witness to his focus on corporate governance, transparency and value-based organisations.”

Matthews also holds a masters degree in public administration from Harvard University. He is currently employed as a full-time councillor of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA).

Xolani Matthews’ plans for Prasa

Matthews said on Saturday that Prasa’s strategic aims “are our pledge card, the yardsticks by which we will measure our capabilities in meeting the challenges to come”.

Matthews said he is “determined to deliver high-quality service and build a stable, fiscally prudent, modern company that fulfils its mandate and is at the centre of our future transportation objectives”.

“Allow me, if I may, to begin by thanking the Honourable Minister and the Board of Control for the opportunity to serve in one of our most important national strategic entities. I am deeply honoured and humbled by your decision to vest this responsibility in me”.

Xolani Matthews, Prasa CEO

Prasa’s struggles

Prasa has been on a downhill slope for years. It all began when the Public Protector’s investigation revealed that Prasa has spent hundreds of millions of Rands on “dodgy security contracts.”

At the time, Ground Up was working with Daily Maverick to make the reports public. It was found that the annual expenditure on security alone “may be in excess of R300m”.

We reported back in 2019 that thousands of Prasa jobs were on the line. More than 3 000 security guards faced unemployment when Prasa cancelled security contracts, with additional cuts planned to maintenance and repair contractors too.

Then in August 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa tasked the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to uncover corruption, and attempt to recover lost funds. However, Minister Mbalula Saturday placed the blame on “thieves and vandals”.

He said the “prevalence of crime in our rail environment has reached alarming levels”, adding that theft and vandalism place both the lives and livelihoods of those who rely on trains in danger.

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Presh JM Reporter

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