The Public Protector’s report on allegations against PRASA management betokens a serious institutional systemic pathology in State governance overall and the Public Protector needs to be protected against those intent on limiting her powers.
John Clarke, spokesperson for OUTA says that the highly defensive reaction of former CEO Lucky Montana is harming rather than helping his reputation. “In my experience of working with the Office of the Public Protector, she takes a very cautious approach and will only make findings that can be empirically verified. Although she only has to prove findings to be true on the balance of probabilities, she errs on the side of caution by tending toward findings that meet the higher evidential burden of beyond reasonable doubt.
Four significant ‘watermarks’ indicate that Mr Montana is digging himself ever deeper into a hole by his protestations. Firstly the fact that the Public Protector had great difficulty getting hold of a reliable and truthful paper trail. That speaks of a cover up. Secondly, his manner of dealing with the dissent of senior managers. Suspending executives for long periods on full pay without holding prompt and decisive disciplinary hearings is highly manipulative, raises suspicion and wastes money. Thirdly, the fact that there has been a complete breakdown of trust between Mr Montana and his board is indicative of hubristic incompetence. Fourthly, especially given the above indicators, the fact that he will seek vindication in a higher court shows that Mr Montana is not seeing things with any insight. His avowed intention to seek a high court review will only serve to enrich the legal profession and waste more money.”
OUTA is encouraged by the Minister of Transport’s statement that she will take careful account of the recommendations and that she is committed to ensuring that State Owned Enterprises under her jurisdiction are fully aligned with Section 195 of the Constitution.
Values and principles are by definition concepts that are only meaningful if there is a proactive commitment to them. Reactive defensiveness does nothing to help leaders to internalise them. They become meaningless words. We trust that Minister Peters will now heed to OUTA’s calls for an independent enquiry into Sanral’s conduct, whereby serious questions are being asked about the cost of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, which appears to have cost several billions of rands more than it ought to have, placing a serious question on the unnecessary debt which the e-toll project has placed onto society. In addition, Sanral also needs to be put back on track to display “A high standard of professional ethics” and to promote “Efficient, economic and effective use of resources”.