Vhahangwele Nemakonde
Digital Journalist
3 minute read
21 Dec 2020
2:56 pm

Mashaba and Magashule both in Mkhwebane’s sights, in latest reports

Vhahangwele Nemakonde

The Public Protector's latest reports implicate Herman Mashaba in financial mismanagement and procurement irregularities, while calling for the controversial Vrede Dairy farm to be revived, with 51% beneficiary shareholding.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has released several reports implicating former Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba in cases of  irregular appointments of staff, irregular salary increases, financial mismanagement and conflicts of interest.

Mkhwebane found that the city irregularly appointed executive director of housing David Tembe as chief of JMPD, as well as appointing auditors KPMG to conduct investigations in various departments which required different expertise without advertising the tender as required.

“On financial mismanagement, the complainant alleged that the city retained nearly R736 million to National Treasury (NT) in funds that were allocated as conditional grants for the year which ended 30 June 2017. NT allegedly served the city with a letter of demand in October 2017 to recover this money. It was alleged that the city, due to poor performance, failed to spend the conditional grant and the money was allegedly meant for the provincial basic services for the residents, including water and sanitation, housing and electricity,” said Mkhwebane.

She found that Mashaba unlawfully and irregularly entered the procurement space and solicited free services from Lephatsi Financial Services.

ALSO READ: Mkhwebane loses ConCourt bid to appeal Vrede dairy farm judgment

Mkhwebane recommended that all employees involved in the city’s recruitment and supply chain must be disciplined within 60 days and that the city manager should disclose all irregular expenditure in terms of irregular appointments within 60 days.

Mashaba will fight back

Mashaba has said he would approach the courts to have the report reviewed.

“The release of the Public Protector’s report in relation to my tenure as the Mayor is disappointing. I won’t comment. My focus now will be a High Court legal review of the report and I will seek a cost order against the Public Protector.

“Political leaders must clear their names in the courts of our country, in full scrutiny of the media and the people of South Africa. I have nothing to fear. The already disgraced Office of the Public Protector has everything to fear,” he said.

Magashule “was involved” in Vrede Dairy project

Finally commenting on the long-awaited report into the Vrede project, Mkhwebane said there was no complaint against any specific politician.

“The scope of our investigation is determined by the complaint and specific allegations made against whoever the subject of the investigation is.”

ALSO READ: Supreme court denies Mkhwebane leave to appeal Vrede Dairy Farm matter

She investigated political interference by the Free State provincial government and prejudice against beneficiaries. She said on interviewing then premier and current ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, he raised concerns with her jurisdiction and her temporal jurisdiction of two and a half years, and claimed that she did not give reasons why this investigation was conducted under exceptional circumstances.

Magashule told Mkhwebane that he was not involved in the planning or implementation of the Vrede Dairy Farm project.

In her findings, Mkhwebane said Magashule was found to have been involved when the project was presented at EXCO.

“From evidence in my possession, Magashule appointed Ashok Narayan as a Special Advisor in the Premier’s Office a day after he had approved a memorandum indicating that Narayan would undertake a trip to India with former head of Free State agriculture Peter Thabethe for the purposes of the Vrede Dairy Project,” she said.

Mkhwebane ordered that the project be revived with beneficiaries as 51% shareholders and full participants in the project.

She said the Free State Provincial Government led by Magashule failed to perform collective oversight over the project and has taken a decision to consider Magashule’s conduct and other senior officials in exercising their responsibilities in the project.

She found that allegations that there was political involvement in the Vrede Dairy Project were substantiated.

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