'Lies and slander': Fikile Mbalula's take on evidence to be led at Zondo inquiry

Fikile Mbalula denies firing the Prasa board in a fit of pique after it didn't endorse his anointed CEO.
Fikile Mbalula denies firing the Prasa board in a fit of pique after it didn't endorse his anointed CEO.
Image: LEBOHANG MASHILOANE

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has denied he dissolved the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) board in a fit of pique after it declined to endorse his chosen CEO in 2019.

This evidence is due to be delivered before the Zondo commission into state capture by interim Prasa board chairperson Khanyisile Kweyama. 

Responding to the revelation at the commission on Wednesday, Mbalula said in a statement on Thursday: “I remain ready to present myself before the commission in line with due process ... put paid [sic] to the lies and slander Ms Kweyama intends to present.” 

 

Briefing the commission on Wednesday ahead of Kweyama's testimony, advocate Vas Soni said: “She will say the reason her board was dissolved is that the minister wanted a particular individual, Mr Bongisizwe Mpondo, to be appointed the CEO and the board wanted a proper process to be followed before the decision was taken. 

“The minister, Mr Mbalula, became impatient and dissolved the board,” Soni continued.

After the disbandment of the board, Mbalula appointed Mpondo as the administrator of Prasa, a decision that's being challenged in court.

Mbalula criticised the commission for failing to inform him that evidence will be led against him, in accordance with its rules. 

He quoted one of them, which reads: “If the commission’s legal team intends to present to the commission a witness whose evidence implicates or may implicate another person, it must, through the secretary of the commission, notify that person [implicated person] in writing within a reasonable time before the witness gives evidence.”

Mbalula said he has instructed his lawyers to write to the commission to address what he labels a “worrisome development”.

“It is equally concerning that the commission is unaware that the matter will be heard in the Cape Town high court in the coming week,” Mbalula said.

The commission, however, denies not following its own rules of engagement in this case. 

Soni on Thursday dismissed Mbalula's claim that he was not served with a rule 3 notice.

“With regards to Ms Kweyama, the affidavit was served on Mr Mbalula in an e-mail address the commission has used before to communicate with him, without complaints. 

“There has also been communication between the commission and the ministry of transport, and all the affidavits were served. There was confirmation that they were received,” Soni added. 

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