Limpopo MEC for agriculture Mapule Mokaba-Phukwana, formerly MEC for transport, has been ordered in a letter to repay the provincial government R1.6 million.
This is as per the remedial action issued by public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane in February this year. The contract under investigation is related to a forensic investigation tender awarded without following procurement procedures to MPA Investigation Team.
The premier’s office has also confirmed that the head of department of transport, Hanli du Plessis, also received a letter in which she is instructed to repay the provincial government.
Over the weekend, Sunday Sun reported that the MEC was refusing to pay R1.6 million as demanded by the premier in a letter addressed to Mokaba-Phukwana. The publication claimed the MEC was told by premier that “you think just because you are related to Peter Mokaba you are not accountable”. This claim was rubbished by both politicians.
Mokaba-Phukwana is related to deceased former ANC Youth League firebrand Peter Mokaba.
The office of the premier flatly denied this, and their version was corroborated by Joel Seabi, spokesperson for Mokaba-Phukwana. “That is not true, and we will be taking that journalist on.”
Limpopo premier spokesperson Kenny Mathivha told The Citizen that accusations that she was targeting Mokaba-Phukwana and that these are Limpopo ANC factional battles playing itself out were a red herring.
“When the premier came into office, he made it quite clear that he will be fighting corruption. The amount of R1.6 million was determined by both the national and provincial treasury. The report can be taken on review, and so far the premier’s legal team has received no such decision,” he said
As a result of this, Mathivha said as far the premier of the province was concerned, Mokaba-Phukwana was liable to pay R1.6 million as of April 28, 2017.
But the MEC’s office is saying the premier is being misled. “The entire report was taken on judicial review and there was a written notification on the 13th of February to say it’s going to be taken on review,” Seabi said.
Mathivha, however, told The Citizen the MEC might be the one who had been given the wrong legal advice. “We must differentiate between taking a report on judicial review and the intention to take a report on judicial review,” he cautioned.
Based on the status quo, he explained that the premier had the prerogative to take certain actions against the MEC, should she fail to abide by contents of the letter. “The premier can deduct the amount from her salary, and there are other sanctions that the premier is looking into,” he said.
Earlier, EFF provincial leader Jossey Buthane told the media and provincial legislature that the censure against the MEC was too soft and called on the premier to fire Bokaba-Phukwana. “The premier has not yet taken such a decision. What is certain is that as the employer the premier is entitled to dock her salary as the irregular expenditure is taxpayers money that must be recouped.”