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The chief financial officer (CFO) for the Limpopo Health Department, Friday Mushwana, faces possible suspension when he returns to work on Monday.
The Star understands that the department will serve him with a suspension letter when he comes back from leave.
Although the charges against him remain unclear, it appears the department holds him accountable for its financial woes. In addition to regressing from a qualified audit opinion to disclaimer in the past financial year, Auditor-General Terence Nombembe found that the department had incurred R401 million in irregular expenditure.
Separately, the department had lost R161m through fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
The department has had a leadership crisis for the past three years.
Two MECs were fired and two administration heads have been removed from their positions since 2009.
The Health, Education, Public Works, Treasury, Roads and Transport departments were placed under administration in December for poor governance and financial mismanagement.
Limpopo was plunged into a R2 billion cash-flow crisis. This came to light when the province nearly failed to pay salaries to public servants, including nurses and doctors.
A multitask team involving the police’s crime-busting unit, the Hawks, the SA Revenue Service and Public Protector Thuli Madonsela are probing the province’s financial rot.
In March, forensic investigators confiscated laptops, computer hard drives and cellphones belonging to seven top officials, including Mushwana.
Other top officials whose equipment was taken away included Ntau Letebele, head of the Roads and Transport Department, transport’s chief financial officer, Malehu Thindisa, and James Masete, the department’s senior manager for supply-chain management.
On Sunday, two highly placed sources in the health department said Mushwana would not be allowed to resume his duties when he returned from leave. “Mushwana’s issue is final, he has been suspended,” said the source, who declined to be named.
Another source said an official from the national Health Department had already been appointed to act as CFO.
Mushwana refused to comment. “I have no comment at this stage,” he said.
But department spokesman Phuti Seloba said: “What we know is that he has been on leave and he returns on Monday. We don’t know anything about the suspension, but if it happens it will be for a reason.”
If suspended, Mushwana will become the third top official to be suspended in the department recently.
Senior manager for pharmaceutical services Phil Setsiba was suspended last year for allegedly inflating prices for surgical blades and disposable needle tenders, costing the department R167m.
Setsiba remains suspended and his case continues.
In October, general manager for supply-chain management Tebogo Makgolane was also suspended.
But on Sunday, Seloba said Makgolane was back at work. He said charges remained against him and that his investigation continued.
“His presence in the building will not have an impact on the investigation,” said Seloba.
He said Makgolane had been placed under the human resource unit.