Johannesburg - Before the end of Parliament’s first term, Women, Children and People with Disabilities Minister Lulu Xingwana will be hauled before the department’s portfolio committee to explain why she apparently misled its members for half of last year.
And if committee members have their way, she could be charged accordingly.
Last April Xingwana told the committee that a Fluxmans Attorneys report containing legal advice on the suspensions of several employees could not be discussed as some of the employees mentioned in it were being investigated by the Public Service Commission.
But in October, it emerged that in a reply to a written question, Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu had said the commission was not investigating any cases against current or former staff members.
The Public Service Commission did not respond to media queries this week.
Department spokeswoman Kenosi Machepa told The Sunday Independent Xingwana had not misled the department.
“The minister did not deceive the portfolio committee and we confirm that the matter was referred to the Public Service Commission,” said Machepa.
But Portfolio Committee chairwoman Dorothy Ramodibe told The Sunday Independent the committee had written to Xingwana asking her to explain her statements at her next appearance before the committee.
Ramodibe added: “(Xingwana) has to explain what she said.”
Ramodibe would not be drawn into whether Xingwana could be charged for misleading the committee, saying she did not want to pre-empt the process.
But fellow committee member Helene Lamoela said she was “very worried about issues in the Fluxmans report”. The matter had been before the committee for a long time, but had still not been finalised, she said.
“Somebody is lying and covering up for the minister.
“We have been assured that before the term ends we will recall issues around the Fluxmans report,” said Lamoela.
Xingwana’s report relates to a legal opinion she received from Fluxmans Attorneys in 2012 on the disciplinary hearings against several staff members.
The report cost the department about R500 000.
Part of the legal opinion gives Xingwana advice on how she can unprocedurally short-circuit the disciplinary processes and at what cost. Despite this, more than a year after she dismissed five employees, two of the matters are still dragging on.
Nonhlanhla Bhengu, a former director of international relations and inter-sectoral affairs, and Valerie Mathobela, the chief director of strategic management, have both won their unfair dismissal cases and were awarded settlements by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.
Bhengu was accused of “gross dishonesty” after she allegedly received R30 000 for catering services she gave a Gauteng department without authorisation from the executive authority, and did not declare it.
Mathobela was accused of misconduct after she allegedly signed a recommendation to approve a budget of just under R200 000 to pay a staff member overtime.
She also allegedly recommended that a service provider be paid R197 000 for 1 500 copies of the annual report, when only 150 copies were delivered.
In December, the commission found that Bhengu and Mathobela had both been unfairly dismissed.
It ruled that Mathobela was to be reinstated and paid nine months’ salary while Bhengu was to receive 12 months’ salary.
Because the relationship between Bhengu and the department was eroded, it was ordered that she not return to work.
The department is however challenging both these matters in the labour court.
At the same time, it has admitted that it has still not finalised the disciplinary hearing of Philile Shange, personal assistant to the director-general, who was accused of dishonesty for not disclosing that she knew another employee who had applied for the post of assistant private secretary.