Members and supporters of #UniteBehind outside Parliament in 2022 when they handed over an official complaint to the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests. Archive photo: James Stent
By Lucas Nowicki
Rail activist group #UniteBehind has sent an urgent letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa requesting that he axe Deputy Minister of Small Business Development Dipuo Peters, because of her alleged role in enabling looting at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) while she was Minister of Transport.
The letter, signed by #UniteBehind leaders Zackie Achmat and Zukiswa Vuka Fokazi, was sent on Wednesday. It alleges that Peters violated sections of the Constitution that set out the responsibilities of Cabinet members. It says that by failing to ensure the prosecution of corruption at PRASA when she was minister, she also grossly violated her duty as the executive authority responsible for PRASA under the Public Finance Management Act.
Parliament has already suspended Peters following a complaint submitted by #Unitebehind. Last month, the High Court dismissed her bid to lift that suspension.
Peters, who is a member of the ANC, was transport minister from 2013 to 2017, during which corruption and maladministration, detailed in the Public Protectors 2015 Derailed report, was widespread.
The #UniteBehind letter says it welcomes Parliament’s sanction but it is “wholly inadequate” on its own.
In its 2022 complaint, #UniteBehind alleged that Peters had failed to appoint a group CEO of PRASA when required, irrationally dismissed the PRASA board chaired by Popo Molefe (seemingly because it had uncovered R14-million in irregular expenditure), and authorised the use of PRASA buses for ANC events.
In its letter to the President, #UniteBehind says Peters failed to investigate and recover the “proceeds of corruption paid into the ANC accounts through third parties in the Swifambo locomotives case”, referring to the allegation that R80-million from the irregular “too tall trains” contract ended up in bank accounts linked to the ANC.
The letter cites a number of reports and investigations into corruption at PRASA, including the Zondo report.
Achmat and Vuka write that the “destruction of the commuter rail system is directly attributable to state capture, corruption, malfeasance, maladministration, fraud and mismanagement which has taken place at PRASA for almost two decades”.
President Ramaphosa has been given until 20 February 2024 to make this decision.
“If this request is declined, we request justifiable and legal reasons within the same timeframe,” read the letter.
Neither Peters nor President Ramaphosa responded to requests for comment.