Herman Mashaba challenges maladministration report, tells Busisiwe Mkhwebane he’ll meet her in court
Johannesburg - Former Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba has dared Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to meet him in court.
This comes after Mkhwebane revealed the findings of the investigations she conducted in relation to allegations of maladministration at the City of Joburg.
According to Mkhwebane, the complaint was lodged with her office in March 2018 by an anonymous person.
Mkhwebane found that, under Mashaba, the city had, among other things, improperly and irregularly appointed David Tembe as the chief of the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD).
This without following due processes after it was established that Tembe had been awarded a traffic officer’s diploma in line with the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) policy document and SAPS conversion modules “while no class attendance register could be provided to Mkhwebane by the city or to the RTMC as proof of actual attendance of lessons by Tembe”.
Mkhwebane also cited Mashaba over allegations that he unlawfully and irregularly solicited free services from Lephatsi Financial Services (LFS) and that, in 2017, he contacted a friend and a former business partner or associate from LFS, Deshmukh Akhter Alli (Mr Deshmukh), and requested his assistance in advising the city on the financial modelling for the in-sourcing of security personnel.
But Mashaba hit back, saying Mkhwebane had everything to fear.
“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. I will see you in court @PublicProtector,” he wrote on Twitter.
He added that he had nothing to fear. “The already disgraced Office of the Public Protector has everything to fear.”
Meanwhile, the Vrede Estina Dairy Farm and Giyani Water projects have come under the spotlight again after Mkhwebane made adverse findings against various officials and senior political leaders involved in the projects.
Mkhwebane’s probe into the Estina project was aimed at establishing whether there was any maladministration and political interference in the project.
Presenting her report, she firmly stated that evidence presented by former Free State premier and ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, as well as former Agriculture MEC Mosebenzi Zwane, was inconclusive.
According to Mkhwebane, in October 2018 she interviewed Magashule over his involvement in the planning and implementation of the project, but he denied this, adding the project had been presented to exco which had adopted it.
“Evidence uncovered by my investigation team indicated that there was political interference in the project ... The Vrede project could not have been left solely to the accounting officers.”
Mkhwebane said that, in relation to the funds involved in the project, she had found that “the Free State provincial department collectively failed to perform adequate oversight on the project when it made additional funding to the project. The relevant MECs in (their) individual capacities failed to perform oversight on the project and prioritise and protect the welfare of the beneficiaries”.
She said it was unfortunate that beneficiaries were sold an empty dream.
In the matter of the Giyani Water Project, Mkhwebane said her investigation of the partnership between the Lepelle Water Board and LET Consulting showed that officials involved were found wanting.
This comes after it was found that the tender amounts had been inflated.
She said the Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation has 90 days in which to appoint engineers to advise on the work done by previous officials and for the Water Board to take disciplinary action against officials and to collaborate with the National Treasury to carry out forensic investigations and recover of amounts which were lost in the irregular awarding of the Mopani/ Giyani Water project.
Meanwhile, Deputy Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka flagged the shocking conditions to which health-care professionals have been subjected during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Gcaleka said inspections had been carried out at various health-care institutions in provinces such as Mpumalanga, Gauteng, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape in a bid to ascertain the state of readiness of the various hospitals to cope with the pressures brought to bear by the pandemic.
In relation to the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE), Gcaleka said: “(Another) cause for concern is that the equipment was collected from the warehouse by the Health Department and not hospitals according to their needs.”
Mkhwebane said: “As a way forward, the oversight of the MECs and premiers will be vital to achieve good governance. The (Health) Minister’s office should submit an action plan to detail how the facilities will deal with the irregular procurement of PPE."