Shivambu’s claims lead to yet another Mkhwebane investigation into Gordhan

Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan during the release of a Special Paper on Eskom, GCIS, Pretoria, 29 October 2019. Picture: Jacques Nelles

This time Gordhan stands accused of ‘meddling’ in the appointment of Mango CEO Nico Bezuidenhout, according to a leaked letter.

Former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko posted a leaked letter on Friday sent by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to acting South African Airways (SAA) chairperson Thandeka Mgoduso, revealing that Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan is being investigated yet again by the office of the public protector, this time over allegations that he is guilty of “meddling” in the appointment of SAA sister airline Mango’s CEO Nico Bezuidenhout.

Spokesperson for the office of the public protector Oupa Segalwe confirmed the letter is “legit”, and that the investigation was not public knowledge until today.

“We discourage the sharing of such documents on social media or anywhere they are not meant for,” he added.

“Firstly, this could compromise the investigation and put respondents on blast in a court of public opinion.

“It also reveals the details of our investigators. This makes them uncomfortable and compromises their safety.”

According to the letter, the report, just like the previous one which found that Gordhan violated the constitution in relations to his involvement in the so-called Sars “rogue unit”, this investigation resulted from a complaint laid by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) deputy president Floyd Shivambu.

The investigation, according to the letter, seeks to determine “whether Gordhan violated the Executive Ethics code and his oath of office through his involvement in the appointment of Bezuidenhout as the CEO of Mango.”

READ MORE: Mkhwebane claims Gordhan is ‘interfering’ with her investigation

The letter details Shivambu’s claims, which are that Gordhan illegally instructed the Mango board chairperson to appoint Bezuidenhout; that there was a “lie” about Bezuidenhout’s qualifications that was “inconsistent” with Gordhan’s office, but it isn’t clear whether Gordhan or Bezuidenhout is the one accused of lying; that Gordhan “exposed himself” to a conflict of interest; and that he used his position to “improperly benefit” Bezuidenhout by pulling strings to have him appointed CEO.

Claims about Bezuidenhout’s qualifications have surfaced before and were first raised by the Black Management Forum (BMF). The Mango CEO strongly denied the claims, calling them “libellous” and saying he had not misled anyone regarding his qualifications.

Mkhwebane asks Mgoduso to provide a detailed response to the allegations as well as a host of information regarding the recruitment, shortlisting and hiring process.

The letter is dated November 15, with Mgoduso given 15 days to respond.

Gordhan’s spokesperson Sam Mkokeli indicated that he would revert with comment from the minister’s office once received.

(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)

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