The chief executive of the Road Traffic Management Corporation, Ranthoko Rakgoale, has instructed staff to shelve projects worth millions of rands – barely four months after he blew more than R8-million on an international conference.

Financial mismanagement at the parastatal has triggered a litany of complaints from disgruntled staff to transport minister Sbu Ndebele.

Rakgoale this week informed staff that the parastatal was in dire financial straits and that all projects, including those that had already taken off, should immediately be put on hold.

But in September last year, his office splurged more than R8-million on an international road traffic management conference at Cape Town’s International Convention Centre although the RTMC had only budgeted R3-million for the event.

Documents further show that the RTMC spent:

  • More than R600 000 on a consultancy company hired to investigate three staffers who had allegedly irregularly approved R1.2-million in salary increases to all staff, and
  • R13.3-million on auditing company Deloitte and Touche, to assist the RTMC’s finance department to clean up its books.

Rakgoale previously authorised the RTMC to spend R1.3-million to hire suites at soccer stadiums for staff and guests to watch the Confederations Cup.

At a management committee meeting this week, he told staff: “As an organisation, we must now starve until the end of this financial year.”

But the chances of the RTMC’s financial woes disappearing in the new financial year, which starts in April, are slim – almost R60-million out of its R73-million grant from the Treasury would have to go towards staff salaries, leaving very little for other operational costs.

Disgruntled staff of the RTMC – responsible for road traffic management across South Africa, last month wrote a three-page letter to Ndebele, calling for an urgent probe into the running of the RTMC.

“It is our earnest hope that the minister will seriously look at the issues, and avoid the doom that the RTMC is facing at the hands of the CEO,” their letter read.

The Transport Department’s acting director-general, George Mahlalela, said Ndebele had taken a decision to appoint a task team to probe allegations of mismanagement at the RTMC.

“The team is expected to submit a final report in a month’s time,” he said.

Mahlalela said a letter was sent to Rakgoale on Monday instructing him to transfer all money collected by the RTMC in transaction fees to the department.

Rakgoale – who earns more than R1.2-million a year, including benefits – this week admitted that the RTMC “owed millions” to the department.

Rakgoale, however, denied that the RTMC was experiencing cash-flow problems, although the chairman of the board, John Sampson, said otherwise.

“At the moment it appears as if there may be a cash-flow problem, but the cash flow is an operational issue which the CEO is dealing with,” Sampson said.

Sampson says that the board had reaffirmed its support and trust in Rakgoale. “Through his leadership, the future of road traffic management in South Africa is in good hands,” he said.