South African Commuter Rail Agency Appoints Matthews as CEO

South African Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula named Zolani Matthews as the new head of the nation’s embattled commuter rail agency.

Matthews’ appointment as chief executive officer of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa was confirmed by the cabinet earlier this week. He will take over from Thandeka Mabija, who’s been acting in the position since October.

The agency, which services 2.3 million commuters daily, has been plagued by years of maladministration and a high turnover of executives, and was placed into administration in 2019. Forensic investigators and liquidators who appeared before a panel that’s investigating graft during former President Jacob Zuma’s rule testified that money flowed from Prasa into the coffers of the ruling party.

Prasa has lost billions of rand because of irregular and wasteful expenditure, Mbalula said in a statement on Saturday. In 2017-18 alone, irregular spending amounted to 23.4 billion rand ($1.5 billion), he said, citing a report by the nation’s auditor general.

South Africa Hires Administrator to Fix State Rail Company (1)

Matthews’ appointment comes amid the government’s implementation of an economic recovery plan that hinges on stabilizing ailing state companies and improving transport links. President Cyril Ramaphosa is due to receive a report in the coming months recommending how the companies should be rationalized.

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