Fly-by-night advisers landed SA in state capture quagmire, says Fikile Mbalula
Checks and balances endorsed by transport minister as he introduces new Prasa CEO Zolani Kgosie Matthews
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula claims to know how SA ended up with its state capture headache.
He has laid the blame on “fly-by-night advisers”.
Mbalula said this when he introduced the new Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) group CEO Zolani Kgosie Matthews in Langa, Cape Town, on Saturday.
The event was attended by Prasa board chairperson Leonard Ramatlakane.
After a lengthy speech in which he lamented Prasa’s decline, introduced Matthews and promised to turn the embattle rail utility around, Mbalula took the podium again and warned those “who think they are my friends”.
His impromptu speech lasted for more than four minutes. The temperatures inside the Langa train station were scorching – and so was Mbalula’s speech, which was peppered with humour.
“There are those who think that they are my friends. I am a minister of transport, I am accountable to President (Cyril) Ramaphosa and the executive,” he said.
“The decisions I take in this organisation are my decisions and cabinet. I don’t need fly-by-night advisers who want to question my decisions and give me advice. I am accountable to this government.”
Mbalula said the “fly-by-night advisers” were the reason SA is grappling with state capture.
Today we have got the state capture investigation because it was said that ministers were appointed in a shebeen.
“The reason this country is where it is today, (the reason) we have Ntate Zondo (justice Raymond Zondo), is because of these fly-by-nights who think that at any given point in time they can give unsolicited advice to anyone in the state. If I want you to be my adviser, I will appoint you," said Mbalula.
“Unfortunately I can’t have 40, I have got two. Not even the president has ever convened me to his residence, except in cabinet, and sought my accountability on issues and present how far are we with Prasa and all of that. But I wish to advise everybody: SA, please learn. Today we have got the state capture investigation because it was said that ministers were appointed in a shebeen. Some people deny it today, but they know what they did to this country and some; we warned them. We did rise to the occasion, difficult as it was, that this thing will land this country in deep trouble.”
Mbalula added: “Today we are spending billions investigating state capture because of our own incompetence and actions. I don’t claim to be a knowledgeable guy in what I am doing, but I draw counsel from the president, I draw counsel from the executive. I took an oath. If I don’t know anything ... I ask. I have great men and women in cabinet who get reports from us and everything.”
Mbalula said there was no leadership vacuum in SA.
“This country is not leaderless, there is a cabinet. That is why I am a minister. What I do here at Prasa, appointing people and all of that, is not a shebeen talk. It is a legal decision. It is not something that I met with Ramatlakane and then we looked at each other in the face and then we said: ‘Hey let's do it man’,” he said.
“Even the (group CEO) is appointed pending other things. We will check and do everything. We are trying to do things right because we don’t want to [go] back. We don’t want another Barry White, sorry we don’t want another commission of inquiry by DCJ (deputy chief justice), giving the judge a lot of trouble. ‘You are my friend, I am not your friend, you are my friend.’ We don’t want that. What kind of people are we, who don’t learn?”
I don’t need fly-by-night advisers who want to question my decisions and give me advice. I am accountable to this government
He said SA should be wary and do everything to avoid another state capture quagmire.
“We can’t be saying, during that time things were wrong and then we want to repeat now. We can’t. I have got a board led by Ramatlakane. They come to me, they give reports. On Tuesday I (will) meet Scopa. Scopa will be asking me questions and then they must account how far they have gone with one, two, three? Checks and balances,” he said.