Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe delivering the department of energy budget vote. Photo: Supplied by GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy said on Wednesday that it was in the process of completing its investigation on the allegations of maladministration and corruption at its Mpumalanga offices. 

This comes after the department reopened its Mpumalanga regional office almost a year after its closure following allegations of corruption and backlogs in the issuing of licenses.

Since the Mpumalanga regional office's online application system (SAMRAD) was closed, all administrative processes such as applications for renewals and graduation of prospecting rights to mining rights had been handled manually from the head office in Pretoria.

"The ministerial investigating task team is in the process of concluding its report with the relevant recommendations, for presentation to the minister," the department said in reply to African News Agency's questions. 

"The department took a decision to reopen the office in the meantime so as not to further inconvenience applicants and investors in the sector. Any further communication on the outcome of the investigation will be made in due course." 

On 31 August 2018, Minister Gwede Mantashe closed down the office "until further notice" and launched a probe following feedback on the challenges relating mainly to backlogs in the issuing of licenses and allegations of corruption at offices in Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West.

The move stemmed from feedback Mantashe received during provincial engagements on the Mining Charter.

Allegations of double-granting of licenses, improper application of Section 54 of the Mine Health and Safety Act and backlogs in the issuing of licenses were made against the department's officials. 

An official was suspended pending an investigation for abuse of power by allegedly issuing section 54 notices and demanding financial compensation in return for their lifting. 

The department had said that the closure of the office would allow the investigation team set up by Mantashe an opportunity to do its work in the region and provide feedback to the him in due course. 

African News Agency (ANA)