Johannesburg - The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) has made a settlement offer to its dismissed chief finance officer (CFO) Japhtalina Lesibana Fosu.
This was announced by Prasa board chairperson Leonard Ramatlakane on Tuesday.
The agency had appointed Krishna Govender in May 2020 as its acting CFO following the departure of Fosu.
Briefing MPs during a hearing of the standing committee of public accounts (Scopa) on the annual report, Ramatlakane said the board, which was appointed in October, inherited a dispute with previous CFO whom he said “was in fact fired”.
“We could not fill the position until the dispute has been resolved,” he said.
“Currently, we have made a proposal to settle with this particular individual so that we are able to advertise.
“That proposal, I have seen, has gone to lawyers of that individual we wait for her to accept the offer that has been made so that we are able to advertise,” Ramatlakane said.
He also said the dispute with Fosu had a sticking point that delayed the filling of the top position in the transport agency.
“In law, we can’t appoint someone on top of a position that is under dispute,” Ramatlakane said.
Board member Smanga Sethene said the board has since agreed that the position of the CFO should be advertised.
“We are going to ensure that is done possibly before the end of next week to ensure we have a CFO that is up to the task moving forward,” Sethene said.
The planned search for a CFO takes place hot on the heels of the announcement of Zolani Matthews as the new CEO after the Cabinet approval last week.
Yesterday, Ramatlakane told MPs that they were finalising matters related to Matthews’ contract.
“At the moment, we are currently finalising issues about the offer, formal administrative tasks that are to be done and the signing of a contract for the CEO to start,” he said.
The vacant positions in Prasa had been raised by the auditor-general when the finances of the entity were audited last year.
The auditor-general had noted instability at board, leadership and key positions as well as non-permanent group CEO, among other things.
On Tuesday, ANC MP Bheki Hadebe asked about the plans of the utility to fill critical posts, among other things.
Ramatlakane said the board had in its assessment found the top structure of Prasa to be bloated.
“As we have done our analysis the structure is top heavy. The board has taken a decision that before we even fill vacancies, what we need to do is to review the structure so that Prasa is lean, mean and is able to do deliver work,” he said.
Ramatlakane also said they had not gone out to fill vacancies as most vacancies were lower than the management.
“The top management is too big. It is too much layers before you get to the top,” he said.
“We want a structure that responds to the challenges. We hope by the new financial year we have done the structural review and be able to say there is a match and place people to positions.”
He insisted that they want skills appropriate for people in their positions.
Sethene echoed Ramatlakane’s sentiments, saying they have agreed as the board that there was a need for a skills audit to be done at Prasa.
“The current situation you have is a bloated management, a five layered management structure which is too bloated.”
He charged that Prasa has a 17 000 workforce, yet, its performance stood at 17%.
“That calls for a serious skills audit. There is no need to have 17 000 workforce performing at 17%.
“It is on that basis restructuring is inevitable and a skills audit is inevitable to ensure we have a leaner Prasa to ensure it delivers services expeditiously,” Sethene added.
He also said Prasa has capacity problems in finance and procurement.
“We have to ensure that people who are put in positions are people who have requisite skills so that they are able to perform the tasks.